The Prospective Client – The Late Night Caller
Are you familiar with the phrase: ‘Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part…’? How many of you consultants and small business owners out there have come across a situation where a (prospective) client needs something done RIGHT NOW. Most of the time, this is after your repeated emails, calls, a submitted proposal and maybe a missed appointment?
Introducing ‘The Prospective Client – The Late Night Caller’. This is the third installment in a series of (not sure how many I will do…) Prospective Client articles. The first article talks about how to evaluate (or identify) a prospective client. The second article introduces The Whiner, hopefully the first of many types of prospects we encounter and can turn into real clients.
Who is the ‘Late Night Caller’?
Here are the general attributes of a prospective client:
- They own a business, or they are starting one.
- They have a need.
- They may or may not be aware of their need.
- They will need a professional solution to their problem.
To these we can add the following as it relates to the ‘Late Night Caller':
- They are passive aggressive.
- They value their time more than your time.
- They lack in the customer service department.
- They are self-centered and often selfish.
- They procrastinate.
- They are unorganized.
How many of these prospects have you met? I have personally met many and as time does by, I learn something new each time I interact with the late night caller. This has helped me two ways:
1) Provided clarity on how to interact with such a prospective client. I can now identify them, communicate with them and possibly turn them into a client.
2) Provided me with an option to view the prospect as a non-prospect and move on, saving me time, heartache and headache.
How to deal with ‘The Late Night Caller’.
- Set your boundaries: be firm right from the start.
- Communicate clearly, but only during business hours.
- When setting up a meeting, set a date, time and place, and ask for a cell phone number. Reconfirm the meeting via sms an hour before you are set to leave and have an agenda ready. If possible, have a second meeting set up afterwards (or pretend to have another meeting) so you have a (valid) excuse to get out of the meeting at the appointed time.
- Once a (free) meeting is missed, think about charging them a consult fee if they want to still meet. (This is a tactic that worked for me once. It will not work for all, but it does show them how busy you are and how much you value yourself.)
- Late night calls ALWAYS go to voice-mail and will be returned in the morning.
- After you’ve given your time and effort in meeting with this prospect, submit a proposal for service with an expiration date. (“This proposal is good for 30 days.”)
- Follow up once, but move on if you get no response. The late night caller might think that you are so desperate for business that you will pick up the phone at 9 PM when s/he calls, but do not! Return any late night calls during business hours.
- Consider charging extra for emergency service work and rush jobs. Their procrastination puts you (and your other clients) at a disadvantage.
Setting expectations and boundaries earn you, and your business, respect! And it might land you one of the best clients you’ve ever had.
Cheers to ‘The Late Night Caller’. We might like you alright after all!
July 11, 2013 Prospective Client