How can we make sure we end up working with clients who are truly a good fit for us and our services – and politely pass on the ones who aren’t? Let these five questions be your guide.
They call it the “honeymoon phase” for a reason.
At the beginning of most new client relationships, there is excitement around your collaboration and the possibility of what you can create together.
But the truth is, with some clients, that phase ends quickly and before too long, you realize you’re in a working relationship that is simply not a good fit, perhaps for either one of you.
(Once you’re there, it’s your choice whether to get through it or let them go – check out my blog 4 Signs It’s Time to “Bless & Release” for more on that topic).
But regardless of how you decide to handle that situation, one thing is for sure:
The easiest way to ensure mutually beneficial GOOD fit client relationships is to make informed, smart decisions from the start.
As service providers, we all have a “get to know you” phase that happens before the contract is signed and the deposit is received. This might be an in-person meeting, a 30-minute complimentary consult via phone or Zoom, or something else depending on what your area of service is.
This is a time when your #1 job is to gather as much information about your prospect as you can, so you can make an educated decision about whether they are a good fit for both your services and for YOU as a person.
The questions below can serve as your barometer in this stage. Ask yourself these five questions about the prospective client you are getting to know, and listen to your answers carefully. For in them lies the wisdom that will reveal whether this is a person who will raise your energy and who you’ll love working with, or whether you might have a long and difficult road ahead.
Do our conversations feel balanced and do they have a natural flow?
You know when a conversation is naturally flowing and both people are having an equal chance to share their perspective, ideas, and experience – because when that’s happening, you don’t even think about it. You’re not worrying about the flow of the conversation because you’re simply in it. However, if your prospect is dominating the conversation or rambling on and on, making it hard for you to get a word in, take note. How your first meeting goes is a great sign of how your future meetings will go as well.
Does this person respect my professional opinion and expertise?
Most likely your “dream clients” – the ones you wish you had more of – highly respect your professional opinion and look to you for guidance in your area of expertise (as it should be!). One of the best questions you can ask yourself while in conversations with a prospect is whether they hold this respect for you. If you’re not sure, that might mean they don’t.
Does this person have positive energy around the project in general and working together?
When I say “positive energy” I’m talking about sentiments like excitement, curiosity, and joy. When you’re talking with a prospect who will be a great fit for you, they will be genuinely excited about working with you, and you’ll be able to feel that. If instead, you’re sensing mistrust, trepidation, skepticism, or unkindness in any capacity, it’s time to show them the door.
Does this person to some extent think they can do my job?
Imagine if you went to get a massage, and from start to finish, you were telling the massage therapist what they should be doing? How do you think that would make them feel? A client who thinks they can do your job most likely will not be able to stop themselves from telling you how to work with them and maybe even micro-managing your entire process.
Does this person respect my time?
At your initial one or two meetings, keep an eye on the clock and take note of whether your prospect is mindfully working with you to move things along within the time frame you had agreed on, or if they seem to think your time is theirs to take as much of as they need. Respect for each other’s time is a huge sign of overall respect. If a person does not respect your time, they most likely will not respect your other personal boundaries.
Looking for more?
You might enjoy these other blog posts from Janelle (that’s me!) at Ellanyze on client relationships: