Unfortunately, not all clients/customers are worth your time. Should you accept a deal with this person, your time will be wasted, your patience tested and your service undervalued. It’s best to avoid these time wasting clients at all costs.

In order to do this most effectively, the problem should be nipped in the bud. The following post will show you how to spot a time waster within just a few back and forth communications. If you begin to see the following signs, end the communication and move on to clients that count:

They Don’t Know What They Want

I like to call these prospective clients, tire kickers. They don’t know what they want. And they may even know this but for some reason they are more than happy to waste your time.

The only excuse they should have for being somewhat unclear on their goals is if they are a startup. And even then, they should simply warn you about future pivots, rather than alarm you to “Hey, we have no clue what we’re doing. What to join the team of confused people?”

They Keep Asking You to Lower Your Price

Asking for a possible price reduction can be fine – if they provide a reason such as a budget restriction. But asking you over and over again to lower your price is a sign they aren’t serious. If this happens, kindly remind them that they have to pay to play. Your services are valued at such for a reason.

They Keep Trolling for Industry Information

I’ve found some potential clients have wanted me for my industry knowledge. While I’m happy shedding insight, unless you’re paying me to be a consultant, kindly keep the questions to a minimum. Me: “Yes, I’ve been to that conference. Yes, I know that person. No, I don’t know how much they earn per year.” What’s fun is when they try to reciprocate. They say really obvious things about SEO or social media as if somehow to balance the scales.

They Don’t Respond Quickly

When a potential client takes too long to respond, they are likely just testing the waters. Or they are spraying out emails to all freelancers in your niche, just begging someone will take their job for cheap. If you don’t feel important to this client, it’s time to question the relationship.

Now, the importance of the client weights in greatly. If the client is a person of influence, a thrill-seeking philanthropist, a speaker in the middle of a circuit, etc. it’s good to cut them some slack. But if the client can’t even be dug up with a Google search, chances are they aren’t serious about working with you.

You Find Little Information About Them

When you Google that person or the company, what appears? You should get a blast of information on page one of Google. Even startups should have a page one presence. After all, job number one after deciding a company name is to register tons of domains and social media accounts.

If not much appears via Google, you may not want to get too excited about the client.

Their Goals Are Fraught with Flaws

If you’ve been in a niche for awhile, you know what has been tried before. You know what companies have failed in the past. If someone approaches you with a business plan that looks exactly like the other five business plans you’ve seen fail this year – they won’t be a good client. Not long-term anyway. You can decide if you want to tell them or just see how it plays out.

Something Feels Off

Spotting a tire kicking customer is fairly easy when you listen to your gut instinct. Digital communciation is so humanized today, it’s easy to get a feel for how someone is in real life. So if something feels off online, it’ll be off in person. Be careful about who you interact with. Adding unnecessary stress or worry to your day is never welcome.

you hear about them doing them same tactics with other freelancers

The world is small – even when online. Sometimes you can gather a lot of information about a potential client by talking with other freelancers. Have they approached other freelancers? Has anyone else worked with them in the past? What was it like? If wonderful things aren’t being said, you can worry a little.

They Lowball

I understand when people are trying to get a little off. It makes them feel good. Understandable. But undervaluing your services is a sign of disrespect. You both need to respect each other in order to have a happy and productive relationship. Don’t bit and dramatically undervalue your work. Even if they promise you the world once they turn profitable. Everyone says that.

Remember, if you accept a lowball, you not only devalue yourself but you lower the value of your niche. Someone has gotten into the club without paying the price of admission. This can set off a landslide and it’ll harder for you and your friends to get good rates in the future.

Final Thoughts

I believe most people are good. It has been my experience that that is the case. This post is only a reminder to keep up a small defense. After all, we want to keep things this way.

 

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William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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