Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The 7 Surefire Signs of Clients to Avoid

The 7 Surefire Signs of Clients to Avoid
By Fabienne Fredrickson

You’ve heard me get on my soapbox several times about needing to really hone in on your target audience BEFORE you go out there and market yourself extensively. One of the major reasons is that most people try to market to EVERYBODY, fearing that if they niche themselves too much, they’ll narrow down their prospective client pool too much.

We now know that this is actually not true, quite the contrary, because experts make more per hour than generalists, the media is ONLY looking for experts and not jacks-of-all-trades, experts stand out in the marketplace and it’s much easier to market to a specific group than it is to a whole mess of people. Otherwise, our message isn’t compelling enough and we don’t catch anyone’s attention.

Today, I want to take you on a different spin of your “ideal client.” I want to talk to you about the surefire signs of clients to AVOID; at least in my point of view. Some of you may have read on my website that I am very selective about whom I work with privately. I cherry-pick my clients and go so far as to state exactly who I work with (personality-wise) and whom I don’t on my website.

I talk about working best with “high achieving go-getters who are super-ready to get going and just want to know exactly what steps to take to get clients” and that “I don't enjoy working with whiners or skeptics or people who make excuses because the results aren't the same.”

I know it’s a little bold, and I’m certain it ticks off some people (usually though, it’s the people who recognize themselves as bad cases of whiners, skeptics, and people with a general bad or negative attitude about everything). The funny thing is; my ideal clients say they LOVE that part of my website and it strengthens their conviction that they want to work with me. Many say they have a “Go girl!” feeling when they read what I wrote. :))

So, if it’s a little bit controversial to some, why do I have this on my site? Because, probably like you, in the beginning, I took on ANY client that was breathing, had some cash, and was remotely interested in working with me, despite sometimes having a strong feeling in my gut that I was doing the wrong thing and might regret it. I was that desperate for clients. (Ever been there? It’s not a good feeling.)

Lo and behold, every single time I took on one of these non-ideal clients, I regretted it. I ignored all the signs, shunned my intuition, and later wished I hadn’t taken on that client. It was always a disaster. Either their attitude made me think “why is this person SO negative!?” or their credit cards declined, or perhaps they stopped working with me after just one month, blaming me for the fact they weren’t getting their work done.

These were the same people who became what I now call “heart-sink” appointments. You know the ones. They’re the people you see on your client appointment schedule for that day and your heart sinks. Instead of being psyched for your call, you dread it, drag your feet on preparing for their stuff and generally get in a bad mood knowing you’ll have to talk to them.

With an average of 10 clients a day, back-to-back, I can’t afford to have my energy brought down by ONE client who’s a chronic crankypants. It’s just not fair to the other clients whom I’m psyched to speak to and work with, those I get off the phone with saying “YESSS! She is doing sooooo well.” (By the way, my practice is full of these people now.)

If you’re not having that “YESSS!!!” feeling with every client, you may need to listen to your intuition more and better yet, make a list of your own surefire signs NOT to pursue a working relationship with someone, no matter how much you want the money.

Here’s what I noticed as surefire signs, in my own experience, of non-ideal clients:

  1. People who don’t show up for the call and make up not-so-believable excuses for why they didn’t show up. (I take a no-excuses approach to getting clients and to life in general. I expect the same from my clients.)

  2. People who don’t fill out the paperwork or follow instructions sent to them prior to our first call. (I give a lot of useful paperwork during my coaching and if someone’s not going to do it in the beginning, they’ll probably not do it later either.)

  3. People who aren’t nice to my client relationship manager, Naomi. (That is a HUGE no-no for me. If someone treats my business partner like less than equal from the get-go, they’ll have ZERO chance of working with me.)

  4. People who are rude to me too. (‘nuf said?)

  5. People who whine, complain, or resist everything, make excuses, or sometimes even lie. (I prefer to hang out with really fun, upbeat people, and people who are “up” to good things.)

  6. People who ask me if I offer a money-back guarantee. (If they’re already thinking it won’t work for them, they’re right; it probably won’t work for them.)

  7. People who try to negotiate my fees, despite the fact that I offer different programs at different affordable price points, one for every budget level. (I don’t believe in de-valuing my services. It’s been my experience that people who take an inch will always try to take a mile down the road.)

Have you ever experienced people doing one or more of these things? Perhaps not yet. But it may happen over the years, and after a while, you’ll start recognizing the signs and their consequences.

How go I deal with these situations? If they’re a prospective client, I just don’t go further in the relationship, or explain to them that I’m probably not the right coach for them. If they’re a new client and I didn’t spot this behavior at the beginning, then I find a graceful way to end the relationship. It happens only rarely, but when it needs to happen, I do what it takes.

Let’s face it. Non-ideal clients will never give you referrals (and if they do, those referrals will also be non-ideal), will never write you glowing testimonials, and might even start spreading the word in the marketplace that you’re not that good at what you do. Stay away from them!

At this point in my practice, being that it’s virtually always full and that I have standards for how I want to work, I have no room for people to run their stuff on me anymore. It may sound a little harsh, but whenever I talk about this in seminars, I see a lot of people nodding their heads, who know EXACTLY what I mean, and who wish they didn’t have heart-sink clients either. So, that being said, I’m probably not too far off base talking about this.

Your Assignment:

  • Make a list of common denominators among your non-ideal clients (not every client has all of these, sometimes just one or two).

  • Set standards in your practice about whom you’ll work with and whom you’ll turn away.

  • Then, follow those standards like your practice depends on it (it does).

  • Even consider putting it down on your website, for all to see, as I do on mine.

You deserve a practice FULL of “A” clients, not “D” clients. The only one that can let them into your practice is you. You’re the gatekeeper. Besides, when your practice is filled with “D” clients, you become so cranky that you’re not going to BE client attractive. That’s not good for business. So take action on this and don’t break your own standards. You have the ultimate choice, so use it. :)

To find out more about ways to attract only “A” clients in your practice using proven, tried-and-true marketing techniques, check out for more info on the ultimate Client Attraction self-study manual.

© 2006 Fabienne Fredrickson

Fabienne Fredrickson, The Client Attraction Mentor, is founder of the Client Attraction System™ and, the proven step-by-step program to attract more clients, make more m’oney being self-employed, while having more time off to enjoy it all. To receive your F.R.E.E. Audio CD by mail and get weekly how-to articles on attracting more clients, visit