When you have new leads coming in from your website or CRM, or from recommendations, how do you deal with them?
Do you think that you should work with everyone who is willing to pay for your services (and sometimes those that aren’t)?
How do you know which clients are going to turn into a real pain in the neck somewhere down the line?
Wouldn’t it be good to be able to filter them out early in the process to save you a load of time, stress and resources later on?
After years of experience working with clients (including plenty of pains in the neck), we decided to create the Client Decision Tree to help us negotiate those early stages of contact. It works like any decision tree, with a series of questions that will help you decide whether to move forward or walk away from that new potential client.
Let’s take a look at the questions you should be asking and how this can get you towards a client portfolio that makes you lots of money and lets you sleep well at night.
Do you have a clear project to work on?
A new lead comes in and the first question you should be asking is if the prospective client actually has a clear project that they want you to work on. This may seem like an obvious one but if you are an expert in your field, you are going to receive lots of requests for collaborations which are basically looking to capitalize on your expertise without much in it for you.
Do they value your time?
There might be some instances where you do want to work with someone who doesn’t have a project yet. To find out if it could be worthwhile, the next question you should ask is Do they value your time?
How do you know if they value you time or not? The clients who don’t tend to ask you to do work that is not paid for e.g. attend lengthy meetings, prepare presentations to convince stakeholders, do “test” projects, etc. If the client demonstrates they do not value your time then that should be a red flag – avoid, avoid, avoid.
Can they afford your rates?
The next question to ask is do with budgets. Talking about money early on will save you a lot of problems down the line. So, be upfront about your rates and, if they balk at them, politely move them on to another provider and move on.
Do they have a clear need for what you do?
If they can afford you, the next question is to find out if they have a clear need for what you do. As you already established that they don’t have a project for you to work, if you then assess that there isn’t a real need for your services, that’s a clear sign you need to walk away.
Have they worked with agencies before?
If you have assessed that there is a need, next you should ask if they have worked with agencies before. If they haven’t, you should ask yourself whether you want to be the one who teaches them how a client-provider relationship works; billing procedures, project management procedures, etc.
If you are an established company that doesn’t need the business, you can make your life easier by avoiding these clients.
If they have worked with agencies before, then this client could work out. Before you move forward, make sure that you come to an understanding in advance and get paid up front.
Remember that this client doesn’t have a project for you and, as such, it may be difficult to show proven results. To make sure you get paid no matter what, it’s important that you come to this agreement.
For clients who do have a project for you to work on, you have a whole other branch of questions to follow. If you can get to the end of that branch with all “yes’s” then you potentially have yourself another great client!
Join our Insiders program to find out which questions to ask and download the Client Decision Tree Template.
Remember that every decision you make has an impact on the way your business develops, and making more conscious decisions will result in you creating the business that you want. Your clients are an important part of this, so make sure that you are choosing them rather than the other way around.