#93: What to do when a potential client is a bad fit for your 1:1 services

Sep 13, 2020 | Working with Clients

Before taking on new clients, you should be vetting them by asking qualifying questions during your intake interview, discovery call, consultation, or having them fill out a web form that you have on your website.

Sometimes, clients simply aren’t a good fit for a specific service you offer and you’ll discover this after you hear their answers. When it comes to one-on-one services, a bad fit happens for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to offer that client; it simply means the relationship they desire may be a bad match for what you offer at this time.

In this video, I go over 2 steps to help you address the problem in a way that can potentially salvage the relationship while still serving the client’s needs.

Before taking on new clients, you should be vetting them by asking qualifying questions during your intake interview, discovery call, consultation, or having them fill out a web form that you have on your website. Sometimes, clients simply aren’t a good fit for a specific service you offer and you’ll discover this after you hear their answers.

Maybe they’re just starting out and you work with business owners who have more experience. Maybe they’re already making excuses about needing to change coaching dates or project plans or they won’t be available for weeks at a time. Maybe you sense they’re overwhelmed and won’t do the work or have the time required.

When it comes to one-on-one services, a bad fit happens for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to offer that client; it simply means the relationship they desire may be a bad match for what you offer at this time.

It could also be a matter of expectations. You may not be able to offer the type of one-on-one services the client expects. This is especially true of clients looking for more of a concierge or on-demand service when you need to adhere to strict office hours.

So, how can you address the problem in a way that can potentially salvage the relationship while still serving the client’s needs?

Step 1: Begin by Suggesting Options from Your Offerings

Chances are that you offer so much more than just one-on-one services. Consider all the services you offer and try to match the client with one that will meet his or her needs well. Any one or a combination of these will do.

  • Startup packages
  • Group services, discussions, or classes
  • Books you’ve written or contributed to
  • Online courses you offer
  • “Power hours”

Any one of these offers an opportunity to develop the relationship without the intensive work of a one-on-one relationship.

If they balk or push back at these suggestions, inform them that you prefer they commit to pursuing one of these routes before committing time and energy to a one-on-one relationship that might not be effective for them at this time.

Step 2: Explain that Not Right Now isn’t Exactly No

You should always trust your gut and go with your instincts on this. Just because a client desires a specific service and is willing to pay for it, doesn’t mean he or she can benefit from that service.

Explain to them that your personalized coaching or virtual services aren’t the right solutions for them at this stage of the game. That doesn’t mean it won’t be later. If you are a coach, you can show them the free and paid courses and information you offer and allow them to choose to push forward, learn, and grow and then revisit the conversation in six months. If you are a service provider, perhaps doing one-off services to get something off their plate is what’s needed and down the road you can have them sign up for a long-term package.

That gives them the opportunity to benefit from the education and training materials you offer while assuring them that you’ll review their situation at a later date to see. You might be surprised…this client could become uber motivated and be ready for you sooner than you think.

As someone who lives to help others, it goes against your grain to tell someone who is asking for help “No,” but you have to understand that isn’t what is happening here.

The last thing you want to do is to take on a one-on-one client who is not a good fit for that level of commitment and turn that client off from the collaboration experience altogether. Introduce those baby steps and encourage the client to take them so that she will be ready in the future.

What you are doing is telling them you do not believe the service they seek is a good fit for them NOW. That does not mean it will never be a good match. It does not mean they are somehow deficient. It does not mean that you are somehow deficient. Especially since you know you have other products, goods, and services that can help them.

This month the theme is handling difficult client situations and I’ll be providing solutions to common issues.

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