You’ve heard me say it a million times: one of the biggest mistakes beginners make is saying yes to anyone who is willing to write them a check.
Early in my career, I did this. As a result, I was constantly pulled in a dozen different directions. Chiropractic, dental, real estate, physical therapy… Not to mention Facebook ads, social content, sales funnels, SEO, list building…
All these years later I have a team of rockstars that are awesome at these things. But in those early days it was tough to build momentum. It was like trying to move ten footballs up ten football fields at the same time. I would have scored touchdowns much faster if I just focused on one game.
But like I said, you’ve heard me talk about this before. Today’s article takes this idea one step further.
If focusing on one niche is critical for starting your business, today’s lesson is crucial for scaling your business.
And this is the lesson: picking the right customer is just as important as picking the right niche.
It’s not enough just to say, “I focus on Facebook ads for dentists.” Or “I create social media content for Real Estate agents.” You also have to know what your perfect client looks like… and actively push away everyone else.
Why The Wrong Clients Are So Dangerous For Your Business
When you create a specific service for a specific kind of client, it’s like putting a round peg in a round hole. The client understands the service and they see the value. Therefore it’s easy to make the sale, and it’s easy to deliver the service because you can build systems to streamline the work.
But the wrong client will ask you to change up your service. They’ll ask you to adapt your value proposition to fit their needs. For example…
- “I see you create 5 pieces of content a week. I only need 4 pieces per week. Can you give me a discount?”
- “You build websites in WordPress. I really want you to build it in Wix instead.”
- “You like to communicate via email. I’d rather add you to my Slack channel.”
These might sound like easy things to accommodate. And when you’re hungry to make sales, it will be tempting to say yes. But here’s the problem…
1. It wastes a ton of your time
When you standardize on a uniform service, you can create systems and invest in tools to deliver that work quickly. But when you deviate from those systems all of that automation goes out the window.
2. It’s harder to deliver high quality
Having one clear service also allows you to use templates. This means you spend a lot of time once to create super high quality work. You reuse that foundation, then the last 10% or 20% of the project is customized to each client. If you can’t use templates, it’s difficult to ensure the same high quality for all of your clients.
3. The wrong clients care more about price than value
I encourage all of my students to provide premium services. Sure, there may be cheaper agencies out there (although using systems, templates, and automation like I mentioned above allows you to lower your prices while raising your margins), but there aren’t better agencies out there. The wrong clients aren’t willing to pay more for quality though- they’d rather nickel and dime you to lower the price. Great clients know what their core competencies are. They’d rather pay you to do a great job so they don’t have to do it themselves, and then focus on what they do best.
4. The wrong clients drain your energy
This is the most important thing. Saying yes to anyone is a great way to make more sales. But our businesses don’t exist only to make money. We created them to improve the quality of our lives. And if a feeling of dread washes over you every time you see your nightmare client’s name pop up in your inbox, it’s not worth it.
Now let’s compare this to the right clients…
Why It’s Worth Waiting For The Right Clients
1. The right clients will be an easy sell
I had a lead once that I emailed back and forth over 70 times. They had a never-ending list of requests. It was impossible to make them happy and ultimately I had to tell them I wouldn’t work with them. Now compare that to my best clients. I’ve worked with many people that signed up after a single email or DM and went on to spend thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars with me. That’s because when you can say, “Here’s the results I offer. Do you want them, yes or no?” the right client will say yes and that’s it.
2. It’s easy to make the right clients happy
Clients are happy when the results meet (or exceed) their expectations. But when a client secretly wants something different than what your service offers, it’s impossible from the start that they’ll ever be satisfied. And the happier your clients are, the happier you’ll be. Would you rather have conversations all day with frustrated clients, or people who tell you how great you are and how much they appreciate you?
3. The right clients make more referrals
It makes sense that happier clients are more likely to tell their friends about you. But I have a hunch that goes a little deeper. I think that making referrals is actually a “status symbol” for your clients. Telling people about you is a way for them to say, “Look at the results my business is getting. I’ve figured out a way to level up my game without actually doing the work myself.” It’s almost a way of bragging about themselves. So picking the right clients will lead to more referrals.
How To Find The Right Clients (Or Fire The Wrong Ones)
Now that you know who you want to work with, and who you don’t, how do you actually go about finding these people?
1. Set boundaries early (even with yourself)
The first step is having a clear idea of who you will and won’t work with. And more importantly, have the discipline to stick to your guns. When you’re talking to a prospect and you start seeing red flags, remind yourself that it’s not worth trying to “save” them or change them. If you think things are starting off on the wrong foot, trust your gut and just say no.
2. Use contracts or agreement docs
It’s crazy how many agencies I talk to that don’t use contracts. A lot of people think it takes too much time or it feels too “corporate.” But really, contracts are there to serve you. This is your opportunity to set expectations up front so that you make your clients happy. It’s also your chance to set boundaries- you get to teach your client what your relationship should look like and preempt any misunderstandings.
3. Have a “kill switch”
There are some scenarios where it makes sense to lock clients into contracts. For example, sometimes I’ll tell clients, “If you pay for 3/6/12 months up front, I’ll give you a X% discount.” It’s a great way to get cash up front to reinvest in advertising, tools, or employees so you can scale up. But on the other hand, I also like doing month-to-month. It helps close sales because it removes risk for the customer. “The minute you feel like you’re not getting your money’s worth, you can cancel.” But it also allows you to do the same. The minute you need to let a client go, you can politely introduce them to another agency that would be a better fit.
4. Assess your client relationships
As you work with clients, ask yourself what you appreciate about them and what is difficult about working with them. “Taking inventory” of these things will let you know what to look for in the future. Also ask your clients what is the most valuable thing about your service. Sometimes you think the benefit you provide is Y, but clients start telling you that it’s Y. Knowing this will help you hone in your messaging to find more businesses that are similar to your best clients.
One Last Piece Of Advice…
I hope this article has been helpful for you. I encourage you to come back to this regularly and refresh these principles. Make sure you’re following them with all of your client interactions.
You might even want to print this out and pin it up over your desk.
I want to leave you with one last tip…
Always follow The Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. And expect the same in return.
In all of the scenarios we talked about above, it’s easy to overthink things. It’s easy to treat it like a negotiation or game instead of a conversation between two people. You start thinking, “If I say X, what if they say Y? How can I push them towards the sale?”
It’s an easy trap to fall into. But if you’re ever unsure of what to do, just go back to The Golden Rule. It will always steer you in the right direction.
Thanks for reading… now go out and get some leads and close some sales!