by Jessica Oman
As a new entrepreneur, it’s hard to say no to new business. But not all revenue is good revenue, and part of becoming a good business owner is to learn when taking on a new client will help you build a stronger business, and when a prospect is likely to drag you down. As a service professional, you must know how to recognize and handle signals that a prospect just isn’t that into you – and stop potential issues before they start.
How to Handle Red Flags
If the first question out of a prospect’s mouth is “what’s your price”, that’s a red flag. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re cheap – but it does mean that they have no other metric to compare you against their other options. So you have to educate them. If you’re willing to take the time to do that, you can masterfully handle this red flag.
Other red flags include endless questions about how you deliver your services, resistance against your payment policies, downward pressure on price, or unreasonably short expectations for deadlines. If a prospect asks you how old you are, requests personal details that don’t affect your ability to do the work, or asks any other questions that make you feel uncomfortable, it’s a good indication that the behaviour will continue into your business relationship. Nip these issues in the bud before you sign any contracts or accept any payment, and you might gain significant respect from this new client, which can lead to a successful project.
You don’t have to turn down a prospect just because they raise red flags, but you do need to deal with those signals before they become larger issues. If your attempts are unsuccessful, however, you’re probably better off to let this one slip away.
When to Say No
If you’ve made a fair attempt to handle your prospect’s concerns and they are still pressuring you with more questions, that’s a signal that you might not be a good fit to work together. As you become more experienced, you’ll start to get a sense of how long it typically takes you to convert a lead to a customer. If someone is dragging out that sales cycle abnormally long, you’re usually better off to let that prospect go and focus your energy towards finding clients who more easily see the benefits of working with you.
You don’t need to feel selfish about turning certain clients away. More often than not, saying ‘no’ to a prospect who isn’t a good fit means they will go off to find a better solution for their specific needs – and that’s a GOOD thing. If you want the best for the prospects that come your way, you should be able to recognize that sometimes you can’t provide that – whether it’s because your expertise isn’t what they need, or your prices don’t fit their budget, or it’s just not the right time for them to work with you.
What’s the strangest red flag you’ve ever received from a potential client – and how did you handle it?
When Jessica isn’t busy helping her clients start and grow businesses that earn them a 6-figure income, she’s road-tripping in the USA with her hubby and pooch, or developing her appreciation for a good West Coast IPA. You can find out exactly how she turned $200 into a 6-figure business in two years, and how you can do the same thing, by clicking here.
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