How to identify and tackle a challenging freelance client head on
Written by Matt Saunders
Undoubtedly, one of the most challenging aspects of running a solo business is managing clients. As a freelancer, you’ll work with lots of different personality types. You will get along better with some people than others. But when you take on a client who makes your life difficult, it can cause significant problems for you and your business.
Almost every freelancer has been through hell at some point in their career by serving a client who is demanding or outright rude. The problem is, until you’ve experienced such pain (often several times), it can be tricky to spot what’s coming down the road when you land that new project. In this article, I’m going to share some simple methods for identifying challenging clients before you agree to take them on.
The 5 signs that your prospective client might be difficult to work with
Look out for these red flags to avert problems down the road.
1. The prospect has no clear brief
Surprisingly often, we meet prospective clients who have no clear vision for their business. This can sometimes be a great opportunity as you have more freedom to take the reins and add real strategic value, but more often than not the lack of a brief is symptomatic of a deeper issue. Sometimes, the client just doesn’t have a clue.
In these cases, the client is probably going to be changing their mind more often than their underwear. You’ll find it impossible to create a scope, and days-worth of work can be undone as the client switches direction once again.
To avoid this scenario, be sure to interrogate the client’s overarching goals. What are they trying to achieve? What change do they wish to make in the world, and for whom? If they can’t answer, you might want to take a step back.
2. The prospect is either too relaxed or too intense
A relaxed client sounds like a good job for a freelancer, but have you ever tried getting hold of these people? It’s like trying to squeeze blood from a stone! Simply put, they’re not prioritising your work together and frankly, you deserve better. If a client is being tardy in their responses to your questions early on in the process, it’s a good indicator that they’re not going to be available when you work together. This means one thing: projects drag on forever. Don’t let it happen.
Conversely, there are prospective clients who are super intense. They’ll scrutinise every word of your proposal and seek clarification on your pricing. They’ll send six emails at once. These clients can really sap your energy, so be wary before agreeing to move forward with them.
3. The prospect complains about other providers
Have you ever set up a call with a prospect only to be met with a barrage of complaints about their current/past providers? Let’s be honest: some freelancers do a pretty poor job and client grievances are valid, but if the prospect seems to relish being disgruntled, this is a sign that they’re not going to be the easiest to work with.
Originally published at https://freelancebusiness.be.