I recently received this excellent question from Autumn, and thought it could benefit many people (especially coaches and healers) so I’m posting it here.
Q: I’m curious, with your method of payment before coaching questionnaire- do you ever get people you don’t want to work with? I suppose that’s opposite of any intention that you hold, but does it happen?
A: Yep, it happens. Rarely, but when it does, it’s a doozy of a time.
An even more pertinent question is: how can you avoid taking on clients who don’t fit your “ideal client” checklist?
For starters, it helps to know what you’re looking for in a client. What characteristics are important to you? A few examples to consider: Already understands the value of coaching. Is willing to do the work. Lives in [geographic area] (important if you perform your work face-to-face). Can afford my services. Is a pleasure to work with. Etc.
Once you know what you want in a client, stay focused on that and be aware as you’re talking to people. Or, in my case, (since we don’t usually talk until they enroll as a client) keep your “ideal client characteristics” list in the front of your mind before launching any kind of ad, email campaign, or marketing/promotional efforts. Always stick to what you want.
Trust your intuition. Even if you need the cash right now. If your intuition, your gut, your heart, your pendulum, or wherever your personal source of answers is says “no” then don’t do it. You know if you do, it will only bite you in the ass.
I recently opted not to work with someone who was ready to pull the trigger, but at the very last minute, tried to negotiate a 10% discount on my services. It was like it all felt good, then it suddenly took a bad turn. Hey, it’s only 10%. I certainly could have said “yes” and it would have been no skin off my nose. But something about it felt all wrong, so I declined the request. Besides which, I was already gifting the person some perqs on top of the value in their package (as is customary for my six-month private clients) and … I can’t really explain it except to say “it suddenly didn’t feel right.”
A few weeks later, the person drifted back into my mind. I had a worried thought: “Did I really lose a potential client over a couple hundred bucks?”
But I quickly came to my senses and remembered how it felt when the person tried to whittle down the deal. It just felt all wrong, and I felt like I would be taken advantage of. If I had said yes, who knows what the next request would have been. It’s funny, it reminds me of this whole theory my husband has about how things work on Craigslist.
He says if you list something on Craigslist, prepare to get questions — weird ones. But if someone asks you if they can meet somewhere (instead of coming to your house to pick it up) they he says they’re gonna negotiate the price down. And you know what? 9 times out of 10, he’s right. It’s almost like they’re testing you out, to see if you’ll cave on what you said in the ad. And if you cave a little, they figure you’ll cave a little more.
Why is it a problem to cave a little?
It’s not. Negotiation is part of making deals and trading something of value for something else of value (like money). Negotiation happens. But when that little voice in your head says “I don’t like this” then it’s wise to pay attention.
Interestingly, in my experience, people who pay significantly less for stuff are more of a pain in the ass to deal with and will suck up even MORE of your time than people who pay full price. And when you already gave them a discount, and they turn out to be a pain in the ass, you start to resent doing the work for them. You feel like you got screwed. On the other hand, people who pay your asking price (or maybe negotiate some tiny added value, so they feel like they got “hooked up”) are clearly saying that they value you, they value your service, and they value what they stand to gain from the experience. Respect is present, on both sides of the table, and the person is invested.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not knocking people who ask for a deal. Many times I have asked for a deal and gotten it, and many times I’ve asked for a deal and been declined. I don’t take it personally if I get a “no.” Everyone likes to feel good about value when they make a purchase. You go to buy a car, you don’t get the exact dollar amount you were looking for, but you still want to car, so you ask if they can throw in something. Floor mats. A ski rack. Sure, they say, and everybody feels good about the deal. I get that.
Moral of this story?
Become very clear about who you want to work with, and always keep that in mind when attracting or screening potential clients. If something feels off, or like a “no” you’d be wise to LISTEN to that. Even if you need the cash (or the connections, or that first client — to prove you can do this, or whatever).
But it’s OK because if you don’t listen to that little voice saying “NO WAY,” then something will likely happen that will serve to remind you next time. Eventually, you’ll learn. We all do. I’m still working on it, too.