Client Red Flags? Ask These 4 Questions

Last Updated Aug 28, 2009 1:58 PM EDT

Ever get a call or an email from a new client and, well, it just doesn't feel right? I mean, red flags go up, your spider sense starts tingling, the hair on the back of your neck sticks up? You know something's not quite right but you're just not sure what it is.

But still, times are tough and you need the business. I don't know about you, but when I've got bills to pay, I tend to cut potential clients a lot of slack. Lately, if it even looks like I'm in any way "screening" a potential client, even the slightest bit, my wife looks at me like I'm some kind of moron. You know what I'm talking about.

So, if you're a consultant, salesperson, work for yourself, or are in any kind of service profession, these four questions will help you deal with potentially problematic clients. I've been around a long time and, IMO, Business Pundit hit this one out of the park.

Is there a way to both respect your intuition and the financial health of your business?

The answer is yes. I recently found four excellent questions that you can ask yourself if you have a bad "gut feel" about a new client. Tamara Suttle, M.Ed., LPC, a psychotherapist and marketing expert, shared these questions on a forum I frequent. I wanted to repost them because I found them so incredibly useful.

  1. How did you find me?
  2. Have you ever worked with a _________ (fill in the profession) before?
  3. Did you find it useful?
  4. What did / didn't work for you with that professional?
In case it isn't obvious, the response to these four questions will provide a tremendous amount of information and go a long way to helping you determine 1) if the opportunity is even real, 2) how you might go about succeeding where others before you have failed, and 3) if you should pursue it or punt.

You can find out more about the very smart and intuitive person who actually came up with this stuff, Tamara G. Suttle, by checking out her website or her blog, All Things Private Practice.