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How to handle difficult clients (and avoid them altogether)

If you are not sure why you’re bringing in people who just want free advice, want to pick your brain, or don’t want to invest at all, I have a few tips for you.

Don’t worry – I’m not going to suggest you throw out everything you’ve been doing in your marketing. These are subtle shifts you can make to start attracting higher quality clients.

1.  Be sure you are reaching the people with the greatest need

Not everyone who fits into your target audience has the greatest need for your services. I know, I know…you can see the need to help everyone. But unfortunately, not everyone wants to be helped.

You need to target people who have struggled with their problem long enough that they are ready to make a change and are ready to invest in getting help doing it.

Who has the greatest need for your service? It may not be the people that you think. If most people are telling you they can’t afford your services, then you’re likely reaching pre-clients (those who will need what you have to offer but aren’t ready for it yet).

Consider who needs their problem solved now. Pay attention to the people who have already invested with you. You’ll begin to see some common themes emerge that will give you more clarity on who this person is.

2.  Make sure your messages speak to people at the right stage of business/life

If you’re using words like “affordable” and “cheap” and “just starting out” when you’re trying to reach someone who has been in business at least 3 years and has a 6-figure income, that’s not going to work.

The words you use make all the difference in who you attract. If you’re always talking about cheap discounts, then you’ll likely attract people who are only focused on money and who will always tell you they can’t afford the thing you’re offering. On the other hand, if you speak about your service as a high-touch, high-caliber offer for the right person who’s ready to invest and become successful in their business, then you’ll attract a different audience.

3.  Make a list of “no-no” words and phrases

Make a list of words and phrases that you should never use in your marketing because they attract the wrong people. This will save you so much time and sanity…and will ensure you’re not spending time trying to convince people to work with you.

If you go back and look at the content you’re putting out there, you may find that you’re using the wrong words. Replacing even just one word or phrase can mean all the difference for you in terms of the quality of client that you bring in.

4.  Pre-qualify your clients

Are you pre-qualifying the people that you talk with? If you are a service-based business, chances are you have discovery calls with people to determine if you’re a good fit. If you’re getting on calls with anyone, then it’s going to be harder to find your dream clients.

For example, I have a questionnaire that I use to determine if people are ready to work with me and if I’m the best person to serve them. On that questionnaire, I ask them how soon they want to get started and on a scale of 1-10, how committed they are to investing time and money in solving their problem. This gives me a really good idea of whether someone is at the right stage when they book a call with me. If they’re not at the right stage, I will respond to their questionnaire and explain that I’m not the right fit for them at this moment. That way I’m not getting on calls with the wrong people.

If you already have a questionnaire and you’re still getting on calls with the wrong people, take another look at the questions. Are you asking questions that hit on the sense of urgency your ideal client has? Are any of your questions vague and could apply to people in all sorts of stages? If so, make a few updates to your questions and you’ll see the quality of your leads increase.

I hope these four steps were helpful. Remember – being consistent in doing these four things will shift the kinds of clients that you bring in. It’s not an overnight process, but if you remain committed to focusing on the right person who needs your services now, you’ll find that you attract and convert clients much faster (plus they’re the type of clients you LOVE working with).

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