We put so much emphasis on finding clients. And rightly so. They are the bread and butter of our businesses. Without them, we wouldn’t have a business — we make our money by selling products and services to our clients. It’s as simple as that. But not really. Because although we may position ourselves to be of service to someone for a fee, not everyone who needs what we have t is someone who should be our client.
Sounds a little conceited, I know, but there’s a reason to this rhyme.
Every so often I’m given a little wake up call — by my own doing or otherwise — of the certain elements I need to tweak here and there for Intel Boutique. One of the things were brought to my attention by a colleague and long time friend of mine who asked if I was still using my questionnaires. I genuinely like to help people, especially when it comes to my area of expertise, which gets in me in more trouble than I like because there are instances where I’ll just drive right in. But I needed to revisit this questionnaire to keep grounded and be more discerning. So I ended up re-writing it from a simpler but more direct questionnaire focusing on my needs and my prospect clients’ needs. What is this questionnaire I’ve apparently been neglecting for too long? It’s a client questionnaire. It’s purpose is to help me gauge whether or not a client is worth taking on.
Yes, I said ‘worth’. Because as blunt as it may sound, not everyone is worth the time and energy.
So, after I rewrote this questionnaire and gave it a few look-overs, I realized why I’ve been teetering with so many of my recent clients is because I never did a questionnaire on them to explore what they were looking for and what they really needed. And of course, to see if the time I would put in would be worthwhile. Needless to say, I’m glad I rewrote it. And I rewrote with specific intentions:
- I need to know what the client is looking for — often people are so overwhelmed themselves, they want to unload everything onto you, making you their own little generalist. That’s an immediate no-no.
- I want to find out they’re immediate pain points, what are they struggling with the most. I want to find out if it’s in my scope or not and how is it affecting their business and why.
- I need to know if they have a budget for outside help/vendors/services– whatever you want to call it. I found that most people know they need someone else to help them, know they need to pay them for that help, but don’t know how much or can’t afford a lot. And because I don’t believe in leaving money on the table, I work within their means — but not outside my standard. In other words — I give them what they can afford and no more than that. It’s not a selfish act, but a conscientious act. I’m sure they don’t give out much for free and neither do I. And the quality of my work doesn’t diminish, just the quantity.
- And of course, I want to know — how long will they need my services for. Everyone likes long term clients, but in some cases, not so much. Clients who start showing issues with making payments or become unbearable to work with, we want to make sure there’s an exit route for that client.
My questionnaire is about 10 questions long — not very intensive, but it asks all the right questions I need to know to make a decision whether you want to work with that person or not. And the better prepared I am knowing what I client needs and if I’m willing to work with them, the better prepared I am in building that business relationship.