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How to attract your ideal customers and avoid time-wasters

Sooner or later, every small businessperson runs into that customer they regret getting involved with. When time is money, you need to draw the line between being knowledgeable and helpful, and giving away too much billable information. The best strategy is to learn to spot these types of customers and set boundaries in the beginning so that you can spend your time with more valuable prospects, but how do you do this?

How to identify a time-waster

Everyone knows how valuable customer relationships are to growing your business. While it is always best to be courteous, how do you navigate a difficult client without sacrificing your professional reputation? The first step is to learn to recognize them in the first place. Here are a few of the more common things you should look for in potential time-wasting customers. 

  • They ask about lowering your price or striking “deals’

This is probably the biggest clue. This is a sign that they do not see the value in what you have to offer. If they are bargain shopping, they are not serious. 

  • They keep asking for industry information

 It is a sad reality that some customers only want you as a resource for industry knowledge. They might try to “impress” you with their knowledge of the industry by telling you things any beginner would know. You must set boundaries in the beginning and suggest that they hire your services if they would like a consultant. 

  • They’re delay in responding

 If a customer takes too long to respond, they are likely testing you to see how desperate you are for their business. You can bet that if you chase them, they will take full advantage of your vulnerability. If the client is a big company or influencer, you might want to ease up, but if this is not the case, you are probably better off moving on. 

Ways to attract the ideal customer

Now that you know a little more about avoiding the time-wasters, you need to know how to attract your ideal customer. Here are a few tips. 

  • Use a customer contact form 

Put a contact form on your website or email using Survey Monkey or Google Sheets. This technique allows you to ask a few prequalifying questions and to get a better idea of their needs. This takes up much less time than answering the phone and spending your time talking to “browsers.” 

  • Position yourself

Use your online presence to define your target market. This comes under the category of knowing your brand, knowing the value of your brand, and knowing as much as possible about your target market. 

  • Charge an initial consult fee

Your time is worth something. If they are serious, they will understand this and be willing to pay for your services from the beginning. 

  •  Free 10-minute consultation

Advertise a free consultation time and charge for anything after this, it’s an excellent way to set boundaries and limit your losses from those who only want what you know for free. Set a timer and be ready to politely end the conversation if the person wants too much. Also, keep in mind that people often do not value what they receive for “free.” 

  • Name your price

By advertising average prices on your website for standard services, you create transparency and can save time discussing via email or telephone. Being upfront about your pricing helps to attract those who are willing to pay what you are asking. If your pricing is clear, bargain hunters will probably not even call. 

Ways to steer a free conversation into a billable conversation

You can screen potential customers and take steps to try to eliminate those who are not serious, but sometimes, you still end up in a conversation with someone who sends up a red flag. What should you do if you find yourself in this position? 

  • Express the limitations of your call early in communication

If you are giving a free 10-minute consultation, be clear about that at the beginning of the conversation. Also, let them know when the clock begins. If the potential client begins asking things that are too in-depth for an initial conversation, politely state that this topic is beyond the scope of an initial consultation. If they will not allow you to end the conversation when the time is up, do not be afraid to break in and let them know that from this point forward the time is billable. 

  • Be knowledgeable but don’t give away all the answers

Express the need for more information or documentation to know the whole picture. It is good to let them know that you know what you are doing, but do not be too free with giving away trade secrets. It took you many years to get where you are now, and those who want to be where you are will have to put in the time, too. There is value in the knowledge that you bring to the table, and you should never give it away for free. 

  • Ask to set up a follow-up conversation 

When the time is up for the initial consultation, you should politely ask if they would like to have another conversation at the billed rate? Always keep the end of the conversation upbeat, even if you have a feeling that the person never intends to purchase services because you never know. 

  • Use customer-centric language

Be aware of your boundaries, but you should always give the customer the impression that you put them first. Keep the conversation focused on what they need and suggestions of how your services can help. Your goal should be to understand their needs. 

Unfortunately, these types of customers are a part of doing business. Having a solid plan for spotting them and understanding how to handle them if you do encounter them, is the best advice. The best strategy is to understand how to attract the ideal customer and avoid them in the first place.