Invisible Partner

How to Attract Your Ideal Clients

By Patti Waterbury

We’ve all had difficult clients to work with – the chronic complainer, or the customer who is demanding and disrespectful toward everyone. Once you’re involved with those clients’ projects, all you want to do is get out. And the very worst clients are those who make you wonder if you’re in need of a career change. Immediately.

We are not meant to work with everyone. Maybe you feel you should work with anyone who walks through your door or contacts you by phone or email. Anyone with money and a pulse. But that’s just not practical, wise, or healthy.

You are in control of your business. As a service provider, you get to choose your clients. And to maintain your enthusiasm for your work and for your customers, you must choose those clients carefully.

Intentionally Attract Your Ideal Clients

Have you seen the red velvet ropes used by businesses to detain people in certain areas? Those ropes are a nice method of directing people – keeping some out and letting others in.

Adopting your very own “red velvet rope policy” in choosing clients will help you maintain energy and passion for your work. With that policy in place, you work with (allow in) just your ideal clients while not working with (keeping out) those who drain your energy and leave you wondering why you ever got into business.

There are clients you’re just not meant to work with. Their personalities are counterproductive or don’t support collaboration. Their vision doesn’t match yours. Or maybe they’re just boring or frustrating to work with. For any number of reasons, they sap your energy, making it impossible to produce your best work.

Eliminating the clients who literally suck the energy out of you is one of the most profitable moves you can make. Without them, you’ll be energized by the great people you do work with. You’ll be more productive and work more efficiently. Best of all, you’ll once again be excited and passionate about your work – which will attract even more ideal clients.

Putting Your Own Red Velvet Ropes In Place

To establish your own red velvet rope policy, begin by thinking about clients you love working with. What is it about them that makes your work enjoyable? Determine what is important to you in their vision, values, attitudes, actions, responsiveness, reliability, priorities, etc., and jot down those qualities.

Now consider a world where you only work with ideal clients. Make a list of the characteristics you feel your clients absolutely must possess before you’ll work with them. What qualities do they have that bring out the best in you? You can be ruthless when making this list – it’s your world.

Think about your current client list. Are there any names on that list that should be dropped? Are there people who are hard to work with – indecisive decision-makers, victims, non-collaborative team members, procrastinators? Do any of them possess qualities you find impossible to work with or cause you to dislike your job? If so, maybe it’s time for you to let them go to make room for others who are a better fit.

It does neither you nor your client any good to force a relationship to work when it’s obviously failing. And ending a client relationship doesn’t have to be as harsh as it sounds. Rather than just fire them, help them find another provider who is a better fit for them. Maybe you know a colleague who could work with them. No doubt, there’s someone for whom this client would be ideal. It’s just not you.

Screen Your Clients Before You Work With Them

Develop a filtering system to screen out the less desirable clients before you begin working with them. Ask them about their vision – for the project and for their business. Listen to what they tell you about previous jobs with other providers or suppliers. Watch for signs of disrespect toward others in their conversation.

Also listen to what they don’t say. This is more difficult. However, if you can see omissions in descriptions of jobs, maybe they aren’t capable of giving complete information. If they answer your questions with non-answer rhetoric, they aren’t being forthright with you. And if you’re looking for a client who considers the working relationship a partnership, this person isn’t right for you.

Refine your screening process. Once you understand what characteristics your ideal client possesses, develop a short set of questions to ask, covering all the qualities you are looking for in them. Ask about their expectations of you and of the job. And listen closely to what and how they answer you.

Remember, you are not meant to serve everyone.  You can be selective.  By choosing to work with people who energize and inspire you, you’ll soon have more passion and enthusiasm for your business.

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