5 Warning Signs A New Client Won’t Be Worth Your Time In The New Year

12/08/2016 01:32 pm ET

Regardless of how long you’ve been in business, the New Year brings an opportunity to assess and rethink your thought processes when onboarding new clients. If you want to make 2017 your most successful year yet, you’re smart to get selective. Repeat after me: “Not all customers will be worth your time and effort.”

Especially if you’re a professional services provider, your time spent on clients will often be directly tied to your revenue potential. That’s why you should never underestimate the importance of choosing your clients wisely.

But how, before you’ve done any work for them, can you tell if want-to-be clients will be trouble for your business?

I believe that depends on knowing what danger signs to watch for.

5 Signs Certain Clients May Be Bad News For Your Business

  • The services you provide don’t match the clients’ needs. If your company is experiencing an end-of-year slump, it might be tempting to bring on clients even when your services aren’t an exact match for what they need. For example, I’ve seen advertising firms that specialize in print materials bite off more than they could chew by accepting clients who need online marketing strategies. If you promise something you don’t have the knowledge, skills, or resources to deliver to your clients, you’ll end up permanently hurting your business’s reputation.
  • They’re overly demanding of your time—and you haven’t even signed a contract yet. Exercise caution when you meet prospective clients who demonstrate this M.O.! If you’re inundated with emails, phone calls, and/or text messages from certain prospects before you’ve established official working relationships, it’s a good sign they’ll be high maintenance. That could harm your business for the long term as those unreasonably demanding customers distract you from giving proper time and focus to your other clients.
  • They don’t know what they want. Like the demanding sort of clients that I mentioned in the bullet point above, prospects who can’t decide what they want could also drain you of your time and energy. If you find yourself modifying your proposal multiple times to accommodate changes in direction or scope of work, it may be a sign that the customer has a hard time making decisions or committing to a plan. Contemplate how that could affect your business. You might end up doing a lot of extra work when you have clients who constantly shift gears and change their minds mid-project.
  • They’re extremely price sensitive. All smart business professionals want the best value for the best price. But clients that fixate on getting the lowest price possible may want you to cut corners and compromise on quality. Either that, or they’ll expect stellar work on the cheap. Think very carefully if that’s the sort of client you want to work for. Taking on low-paying clients who want marginally O.K. work from you won’t enable you to build an impressive portfolio. And cheapskate clients who want everything for nothing will test your patience and detract from the time you have to spend on higher paying customers.
  • They give you a bad feeling. Whether something just doesn’t seem right or the prospect has done something or said something to put you on edge, be wary. So many times I’ve heard entrepreneurs say they wish they had trusted their instincts. Going with your gut may be just the thing to keep you from entering into a toxic business relationship.

Make It A Happier New Year For Your Business: Be Choosy.

As you make your business New Year’s resolutions for 2017, why not add, “Choose my clients more carefully,” to the list? Besides being a perfectly attainable goal, it’s also one that will have lasting positive effects as it establishes the caliber of customers you want to focus on as you move your business forward.

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