You don't bother to do your research on who I am and what it is I do.
I remember the days when I would get DMs and/or emails of people saying, "I'm looking for someone to do my branding, you do that?" And Jesus...just the nature of the inquiry would urk me. Yes, praise the Lord for the inquiry...but when someone doesn't take the small step to visit you online to read your full on services page; well...they're not serious about doing business with you—and that's real. Folks that are serious about business, will do their research, and professionally inquire! They will not approach you like you're they're homegirl.
2. You use words like "help" instead of "hire" when messaging you about services.
This might sound so weird, but this clue worked for me time and time again. Whenever someone reached out with statements like, "I am looking for someone to help me with my business" vs. "I'm on the market to hire someone to assist me with my business" I knew right away! Those not looking to spend coin use the word help...those ready to rock, use the word hire.
3. You have no clue as to why you need to hire me, and articulating it proves difficult.
Man....I don't want to think about the many initial phone calls I've had where the potential client was clueless as to why they reached out to begin with. I mean, they know they have a problem...and they know you might be the solution, but they cannot even articulate what it is they need. These calls go around and around in circles, and often times it feels like the client doesn't hear a thing you're saying. Listen. They are not in a position to hire you—because they don't even know why they need you.
4. They often place the decision-making for their business in the hands of someone else.
Oh! Another sign folks! Anyone who takes the pressure of making the decision of hiring you off themselves and places it onto someone else...9 times out of 10 aren't looking to book. They'll say things like, "I have to chat about this with my business partner or spouse". And yes, some financial decisions do need to be discussed with others...but I've often found this as an out to not be the "bad guy" for not moving forward.
5. You submit an inquiry form (and maybe even book a call) but never show...
Like for real? You reached out to me!? Anyone who submits an inquiry form and does not take the next step in your process normally will prove to be a flake. They'll either reschedule over and over again, or never show. Let this be the only time of yours they waste.
6. Take up my time for an initial consult as a brainstorm, and not to actually book service.
Believe it or not, people think these initial consultation calls are to solve all their problems in 15 minutes...when in actuality they're to assess the potential client's problems, and share how your business can prove to be the solution. Anyone attending your initial consult with a notebook full of questions may be on the hunt for free information. Be careful. And listen to the nature of their questions. Are they about your services? Or are they specific questions that deserve a paid consult? When it comes to your consults, keep track of time, write a script and stay on task! Eventually you may decide to eliminate free consults in your business, I did.
7. You ask for a proposal, then ask for repeat edits all while never making a final decision.
These folks want to save face...and they knew from the time they heard your price they couldn't afford you. But instead of saying that, they'll go through the process of receiving a quote anyway just to prove they're about their business. After receiving your proposal, they'll ask for repeat edits that sound something like, "what if we took away X and added X...can I see what that looks like?" Ma'am, you already know what it looks like (lol). Trust me. It's a never ending cycle...quickly assess whether this is the client for you.
8. The "put on" to have it all together—with connects galore—but finagle your prices.
This takes me to a bad place...but we all experience this a time or two. You know, the well-connected "multiple figure" entrepreneur that "puts on" having it all together—but will finagle your prices promising you exposure and more "amazing clients". Ugh right. And if for some reason they get over on you, they turn out to never pay on time, lack ethics and to never do what they say they're going to do. They're a flake on the hunt for someone gullible enough to believe their lies! Do your research and don't let their name dropping fool you! I had a client like this get over on me once, and once I decided to do my research I found blogs upon blogs on how the person was a thief and con.
9. Totally ignoring my process & jump through hoops in an effort not to sign the contract.
This can get really annoying, and fast. This person thinks their way is "thee" way and will simply treat you like a novice in the game. They'll ignore your process, and will even go through lengths not to sign your agreements—besides, you should be lucky to have them in your portfolio of work anyway. "GIRL [BOY] BYE"...you want this work, you better respect the process, ok! No person is too good to follow your process, and sign your agreement.
10. No timeline or budget for the work in which they're looking to hire you.
Every business owner steps into a process / project with a timeline and budget in mind. The whole, "I'm not in a rush" and "I didn't think about a budget" should be signs that the potential client isn't serious about working with you. Kindly share your process...and decide what's in your best interest with this one!
Well there you have it, my 10 Ways to Know a "Potential Client" is a "Total Flake". And while these are signs I've collected over my 12 years in business you must always assess what works for you. But above all, know this—amazing clients:
Respect your process and your prices.
Allow you to be the expert.
Know your worth and have already saved to invest.
Are clear on their needs.
And have and often share your values!