How To Spot A Bad Client Before You Sign The Deal

Source: Stencil

Any freelancer, consultant or creative knows the feeling. You agree on a deadline with your client. You submit something for their approval. They ignore it. You remind them. They ignore it some more.

The Deadline Approaches

They finally respond. You did it wrong. You need to start over again. Even worse, you pull an all-nighter just to finish on time. The net result is shoddy work. You disappointed your client. Your reputation and sanity suffer.

Good luck trying to blame them for their lax responses to you. That never works.

What is the solution?

The Professional Attitude

First, understand the difference between a professional and unprofessional attitude.

The professional starts in a hurry. She does 90% of the work in the beginning. She smooths the rough edges as she approaches the finish line.

The Unprofessional Attitude

The unprofessional dawdles in the beginning. She sits on her hands, indecisive. As the finish line approaches, she panics. That thrusts her into action. She gets the work done at the last second. The quality sucks. But she finishes on time.

The professional attitude results in better quality. The unprofessional attitude results in poor work and extended deadlines to fix the problems.

Clients demand a professional attitude from you.

Here is what some of them fail to understand.

As a freelancer or consultant, you are only as good as the attitude of your client. The client must also be a professional. The professional client shares information. He makes decisions without delay. He thinks of you as a partner instead of a vendor.

Secretive clients who drag their feet and expect you to work miracles set you up for a no win situation.

Weeding Out The Bad

How do you spot these sanity killing clients? Lucky for us, they drop hints. With awareness, you pick up on these hints. These red flags surface before they hire you.

  1. Slow Decisions — Does everything need to funnel through some mythical decision maker? I swear every big organization has one. The “boss” must give the final go ahead. This secretive boss has more important things to deal with. He cares little for your petty questions. In other cases, the decision maker is too scared to decide. He fears the responsibility of making a decision.
  2. Lack Of Courtesy — Mistakes happen. People forget. When missed phone calls, meetings and deliverables become a pattern, take notice. It could be a sign of a general attitude.
  3. Unrealistic Expectations — Never accept expectations you cannot meet. Everyone loses. An experienced client understands what is attainable. A client who lacks experience may need education. In either case, avoid gigs that offer no chance of success.
  4. Demand More Than Agreed — They agree to “X” for $1,000. Then they demand “X + Y” for the same price.
  5. Trust Your Gut — Your intuition is telling you something. It signals what you already know but don’t want to recognize.

Your Backup Option

It’s easier to turn down work if you don’t need it. Put in the time to build a pipeline. You become more scarce. That makes you more desirable. This allows you to pick true partnerships.

Finally, build financial discipline. Financial freedom gives you freedom to say “no” when it’s not a fit.

All freelancers and consultants need to sharpen their persuasion skills. Get my best tool here (plus an extra surprise). Oh, If you liked this story, please share so others find it.