Three Ways To Prequalify Your Clients
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Wasted time, costly lunches and curse of the "freebie monger" Do you suffer from "well you never know" syndrome?
One of the ways to reduce ineffective effort and wasted time is to prequalify potential clients.
The most obvious way is to hone your marketing messages so specifically and clearly that they only attract people you have defined as in your niche - however that's a bit simplistic and will not always work, it's just the start.
Here are 3 ways you can prequalify a potential client at that first point of contact e.g. when you speak on the phone or meet at an event.
1. Develop A Set of Questions
Develop 3-5 questions, which will self select or deselect people by their answer to those questions. The question should focus on areas such as what they are hoping to achieve, what their level of commitment is, barriers to progress and investment.
You might also consider a question which helps you determine whether you "like" or connect with them (individual or company). Often a basic misalignment of values and view of the world can hinder or mess up a relationship further down the road so it's better to surface this up front, at which point you can make an informed decision - yes it's probably a gut reaction or feeling and sometimes they can be very effective.
2. Know How and Based on What, You Will Say No
It's just as important for you to know what type of company/person you don't want to work with as what type you do.
It's also important that you say no as soon as your gut or their answers tell you, rather than wish you'd said no 2-3 months into a contract or project. I've spoken to many consultants who have "nightmare" clients. Much of the time the nightmare is around payment - lack of, confusion over, or late.
So perhaps in the prequalifying questions something covering this might be helpful
3. Have the Money Discussion
Know what your value is
Know what you are willing to negotiate and what you are not
Know what will trigger you "walking away"
At some level the money discussion needs to take place early on (but probably not over your first coffee unless you are specifically asked!)
You can respond...
* I charge X
* My daily rate is Y
* The investment for this project will be Z
OR you can be bold and say
If we could achieve this with you, what would you like to invest? (I've done this on a few occasions and the results are surprising!!)
However you choose to have the financial conversation, get expectations out in the open. It saves everyone time in the long run. If you are willing to provide something "for free", always let the other person know the value of what you are giving them e.g. "I would usually value XYZ at £550 and on this occasion I would like to offer you this service for no investment on your part except some detailed feedback."
Prequalifying saves everyone time and heartache and also shows you are serious about your business, are not desperate and will banish the "freebie mongers" early on. (A freebie monger is someone who wants lots for free and rarely values or buys anything).
In saying all of the above, remember that saying no to someone as a client, doesn't preclude them being an advocate, alliance, partner or remaining part of your network.
It's not always about short term gain or money.
About the Author
Beverley Hamilton works with independent business consultants to help them grow a profitable consultancy and still have time for their life. You can get my Free Ecourse Discover the 5 Most Common Incorrect Assumptions Independent Business Consultants Make and a complimentary subscription to Quickstart, the newsletter specifically for consultants. Go to One Step Further for more instantly accessible resources. Your future Your choice!
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-01-16 00:08:10 in Marketing Articles