Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Avoiding Bad Clients

Marketing guru Robert Middleton had a great post last week on his blog that I wanted to analyze in a bit more depth. He shared a system of identifying types of prospective clients outlined by Jerry Vieira, of The QMP Group, at the IMC (Institute of Management Consultants) Confab in Reno Nevada.

He wrote:

Everyone wants to attract the ideal clients.
But very few of us know how to identify them. And what's even more of an issue is that we don't know how to identify bad potential clients.

As a result, we waste a huge amount of time and energy in the marketing process. We spend too much time speaking to and meeting with prospects who either will never buy our services or, if they do, the experience and results will be disappointing.

So how do you quickly size-up prospective clients?

You divide them into eight types that distinguish their dominant approach to doing business. When you clearly see these types, you'll know how to proceed.

Here are a couple that might sound familiar to resume writers:

** Takers

These prospects are experts at stealing concepts and ideas. So, with little compunction, they'll lift your ideas, pass them off as their own and never give you credit.

If you're meeting with a taker, they'll tend to grill you and take very good notes. They'll ask you to send resume samples or will press you for more detail when you provide them with a resume critique. They'll take your methodologies and get their cousin, Fred, to do the project using your approach.

** BMMDI - "Boss-Made-Me-Do-It"
In the resume trade, these are individuals who are being forced to use your services -- either by a spouse or other family member, or maybe by an employer (in the case of outplacement services). They are talking with you to fulfill an obligation. If they end up buying, they won't really care if your services deliver or not. They'll never read the resume or give you useful feedback.

** Opportunists
They are just one step above the takers. They do not part with their money easily. They want the lowest price, the bare bones package, the minimum they can buy. And then they expect first-class service when they pay economy fares.

An opportunist may buy some services, but they will be high maintenance and take up big chunks of your time. If you decide to work with them, you need a very explicit written agreement with clear boundaries which you stick to unfailingly.

If you connect with these types and recognize them, you'll save huge amounts of time and effort by moving on quickly. An initial meeting by phone and a few well-chosen questions will let you know if they fit into any of the above five types.

Next, Jerry went on to identify three desirable prospect types. When you recognize them, give yourself a green light to spend more time exploring how you might work together. They can all be good clients.

** Terribly Troubled
These are prospects who really need your assistance. They have a problem, predicament or pain and are motivated to get it fixed. They are desperately seeking alternatives and will often make a quick decision.

They may be willing to spend a lot, but are often in a rush to get going; as a result they may not carefully evaluate the options. Work to slow down these prospects a bit. Assure them you can help fix the problem, but also spend some time exploring ideal outcomes that will take more time and care to implement.

** Frustrated Drivers
These prospects are very interested in optimal results and will study alternatives intensively. They will commit quickly and spend what it takes, but will expect visible results sooner rather than later. This is the typical CEO/Executive client.

When speaking with these prospects, communicate about tangible results and clear courses of action. Offer well-documented case studies and proof that your approaches work. When they engage you, set well-defined benchmarks and measure progress regularly.

** Sincerely Growth-Oriented
You might consider this your ideal kind of client. They are already doing things quite well but want to do things better. They have issues and challenges that are not seen as debilitating, but as areas to improve. They are motivated by excellence and growth.

These clients will engage in long-term work, look carefully at the best alternatives, and commit to achieving ultimate goals. Bring your absolute best to working with these clients, as they will reward you financially, emotionally and intellectually.

If you focus on identifying these final three types of prospects, you will start to find more of them.

Thanks to Jerry Vieira for sharing his model. Jerry can be found on the web at http://www.qmpassociates.com


The More Clients Bottom Line: Much wheel-spinning can be avoided in the marketing and prospecting process if you are aware of the warning signs of prospects who will squander your time and energy. Put your attention and focus on better prospects who are motivated to take real advantage of your expertise.

No comments:

Post a Comment