The Cost of a Wrong Fit Client

By Jane Atkinson

I just celebrated the 13 year anniversary of having my own business and what’s funny is that I’m still learning the lessons in year 13 that I learned in year one. After all this time, I still need to sharpen my wrong fit client detector.

What that means is that I need to recognize when a client is not going to be a good fit earlier on in the process of working with them. That’s not an easy thing to do.

Some of the red flags for me are:

  • The client takes a long time to decide and/or is reluctant or slow to pay.
  • The client has a lack of trust in your expertise or the process.
  • They require more hand-holding than most other clients.
  • The client wants to micromanage or overthink the process.
  • They resist taking action that will warrant the best results.

As you can see, many of these are very similar to when a client is hiring for a speech.

If your client wants to micromanage your presentation, then they are not trusting your expertise to do the best job possible. By the way, when this happens a great question to ask them is, why did you decide to hire me? That will bring about a conversation about your expertise and remind them to trust you.

Also, if they are slow to pay the deposit that means they are not serious. A great way to combat this is to let them know that another client is looking at the date that may prompt them to “get off the pot “.

Another big red flag is when the topic is not one that is in your wheelhouse. You really want to make sure that you do not get yourself into a situation where you are trying to deliver something that you are uncomfortable with. You are far better off passing this client over to someone who does that topic than to get yourself into a pickle.

What’s the cost of a wrong fit client?

For me, it’s typically more of an aggravation cost and it’s worthwhile to dismiss the client as soon as possible.

When you find yourself dreading a speaking engagement you will know that you have taken on a wrong fit client. You’ll want to take a look at the criteria and make sure that you add it to your list so you can remember in the future.

Don’t be afraid to “fire” a wrong fit client. Giving back a deposit is not a bad option, and it can free up your energy for “right fit” clients.