And when you think back later, it’s funny how many warning signs you realize you skipped by in your eagerness to get them to sign on the dotted line.
In fact, I recently culled my 8 years as a copywriter and marketing consultant to identify a bunch of red flags for prospects to run from. Here are a few:
The Second Guesser
You’ll feel you’re on the witness stand when you’re talking to the Second Guesser. Because he’ll make you justify everything–from every recommendation to your prices and many things in between.
And just when you think he’s got it, he’ll come back and argue the point again.
Sure, you can tell yourself it’ll get better once he hires you but that won’t happen. This guy is a grade-A control freak who will never value your expertise–so get prepared for an ongoing battle if you sign him up!
Ms. Bad Luck
Ms. Bad Luck can’t wait to complain to you about how awful all her previous service providers were–although she’ll do it under the guise of just letting you know what she doesn’t want you to do.
Now, I do like knowing if someone has worked with another copywriter or consultant before and how it went.
But I almost always have to ask the question and prospects are usually reluctant to say anything negative. If they do, it’s very matter of fact, then they quickly move on.
Ms. Bad Luck though is quite the opposite. You might also notice mentions of a new assistant (or others around her) because she tends goes through people like dogs go through an open box of treats.
Seriously, there’s no way anyone could be THAT unlucky when it comes to hiring help. And there’s only one common thread to all the tales of hiring woe…her.
Bottom line–no matter how happy she seems with you right now, it’s only a matter of time before the honeymoon ends and you’re hiding in the dog house with everyone else.
Mr. Gray Area
This is the prospective client who trips your “hinky” meter. It could be because…
- He’s evasive when you ask questions
- What he sells sounds too good to be true
- Or maybe you can’t explain it, but you just get a bad vibe
Do yourself a favor and follow Nancy Reagan’s advice to “just say no.”
If you’re struggling with the idea of turning down work, turn to the Internet and see what you can find. But honestly, if you have to check whether he’s scamming people, you’re probably not a good fit–even if he isn’t.
Believe me, I’ve been there. I researched a prospect once and found out his too-good-to-be-true-sounding financial offering was indeed technically legal (though I still wasn’t convinced it would work as well as he said).
But I needed the money and he was a referral…and I ignored my uneasy feeling.
So I shouldn’t have been surprised when he tried to skip out on making the final payment.
But I learned two important lessons:
- People who are comfortable playing fast and loose with their customers will have no qualms about reneging on your contract.
- Even if you can’t put your finger on what’s wrong, we subconsciously pick up cues from people. So always listen to your gut about people.
In short, save yourself a lot of time, money and frustration by learning to suss out the bad clients before they become clients–and then run for the hills.