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10 Questions to Determine if a Client is Worthy of You

2 - brand messaging & positioning 4 - marketing & sales Jan 05, 2020
ideal consulting client

If you're a consulting or coaching business owner, you probably invest a ton of time, money and mental energy trying to find your perfect clients and convince them of your value. You might even stay up at night wondering what words you can use to establish instant credibility and how to market yourself so that what you offer comes across as irresistible.

And in the process, you're overlooking one key factor: A client/consultant or coach relationship is an equal partnership between two people. 

It can't just be about you working with anyone who will hire you. It also has to be about working with clients who are worthy of YOUR time and talents.

Two clients that pay you the same amount are not equal.

The clients that are the most valuable - the ones that make you feel like you make a difference are the ones that let you. They are teachable, open and will create the conditions for you to do fully show up and offer the range of support you are capable of. 

The clients who don't do this may give you a moment of financial relief but the engagement will cost you more than you realize over the long-term. A bad clients costs you energy that you could be putting into marketing yourself to find new clients or innovating what you can do to better serve your existing clients. And they rob you of your joy and self-esteem.

One of my worst client experiences was with Ken. This CEO went out of his way to undermine me in front of his team. For example, at the end of an all-day workshop with his senior leaders, he asked them to give a grade for the day's experience. All 20 leaders said gave it an "A" and many shared effusively that they had gotten more out this experience than any other leadership development program that they had been a part of. When it was Ken's turn to respond, he said dismissively that he'd give it a "B" and some other things that I have since blocked!

In retrospect, I should not have been surprised. The signs were there when we were in the contracting process when he aggressively challenged my options and fees and demanded that I lower my price. 

So, my fellow purpose-driven professional - if you want to make money and a difference, you have to be selective about who you work with. Choose clients that are worth of YOU. 

Use these 10 questions to discern if the potential client you're talking to is RIGHT FOR YOU:

  1. Do they prioritize making time to meet with you? 
  2. Are they reliable and consistent? Do they show up on time?
  3. Do they engage in two-way dialogue? Do they express genuine interest in you as a person and as a professional?
  4. Do they seem humble when sharing their accomplishments, sharing credit for past successes?
  5. Do they describe their personal, leadership and/or career challenges as part of the growth process and accept the work that comes with change and improvement?
  6. Do they seem teachable, open and curious about new ways of getting results?
  7. Do they approach negotiations about working together, especially fees, from a collaborative, win-win perspective?
  8. Do they avoid playing power games with you - doesn't leave you second-guessing or one-upping you?
  9. Do they have a pattern of seeking specialized support when trying to solve their challenges and make improvements in their life, career or business? Do they appreciate the value that advisors, coaches, therapists or other growth catalysts bring to their experience?
  10. When you're in their presence do you feel respected, appreciated and valued? What does your gut say about the how right this client feels for you (vs. what your money fear brain might be saying?)

Bottom line - you matter and what you do matters. Only work with clients that believe that too.

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