Bad Clients Were Bad Prospects First: Spot ’em Fast and Leave ‘em Behind

We do our best to avoid it—the dreaded NO. No usually means we didn’t lock in the business we wanted, or didn’t make a deal. Chances are, however, you really want to hear certain people say NO—you just don’t realize it! Why? Because your success depends on spending time with quality prospects who fit within your ideal client niche. Consider the following seven prospect types, and learn why sometimes hearing NO—or saying NO to a prospect—can save you money, time, and a nasty headache (or lawsuit).

Prospects You Want to Say NO To


Type 1 – Freebie Seekers
Freebie Seekers attend every free event you offer, take notes, and use your handouts. Seven years later, they’re still “doing business” with you this way. They usually subscribe to your ezine with a free service email address and download all your free articles and PDF reports, too. If Freebie Seekers finally decide to pay for something, they take you up on your complimentary session, request a proposal from you, and then shop it around until they find the cheapest service.

Type 2 – Excuse Makers
Excuse Makers love to complain—if only to hear themselves talk. As much as they may whine, they are the creators of the drama in their lives. They find it exciting! They’ll start a second business instead of working out the problems of the first business because it must be about the product, not the way they’re running their business. They market their business to everyone who breathes. Issues? They don’t have any, because it’s always someone else’s fault!

Another type of Excuse Maker is the prospect that “has no money”, yet takes three weeks of vacation, subscribes to a super-duper TV package, joins three organizations, attends a week-long conference, or spends $500 on a new dog or cat. I’m not saying people shouldn’t spend money on whatever they choose, but if your prospective client doesn’t value your services over other purchases, you’re wasting your time and energy.

Type 3 – Perfectors
Perfectors research themselves out of making changes that could help them grow personally or professionally. They’re afraid of making bad decisions and procrastinate by gathering more data. In the end, they may not hire you because it will be too late: their hesitation damages their company and/or forces them to close their doors. If Perfectors hire you, they might never be satisfied with the work you do for them, even though you’re providing exactly what your contract states.

Type 4 – Pollyannas
Pollyannas kinda-maybe know that they could use your services or product, but they’re lying to themselves about the extent of their problems. They believe that their problems will go away–in time. Until they are willing to work on their denial and do something about their problems, Pollyannas will waste your time.

Type 5 – Liars
Liars sign your contract and pay your required deposit up front, but then never deliver additional materials or information you need to complete the agreed-upon project. When questioned, they say they’re doing the work on their side, but they’re repeatedly late or never provide the needed information. You may politely confront Liars and let them know they’re in breach of their contract. At this point, they may turn into Excuse Makers. If they admit to their fibbing and promise to change their ways, it’s your choice whether to keep them as clients. Sometimes, they truly want to change. Seller beware: if they’re lying to you, they’re lying to everyone—including themselves.


If you’ve had “crappy clients”, those five types of prospects should sound familiar. Another modus operandi of bad prospects: they make appointments for a complimentary session or consultation and then not show up. Usually, they have flimsy excuses and expect to schedule another session. Or, they’ll join groups or programs that offer a money-back guarantee and participate with one foot out of the door. Say a prayer of thanks that you’ve been able to weed these people out of your prospect process!

Prospects You Want to Say MAYBE or YES To

So what about clients with positive potential? They’re waiting for you to recognize them!

Type 6 – Busy Bees
Busy Bees have so much going on that they lack focus, and it’s hard to pin them down. They have the funds to pay you, yet they might not be as committed as you need them to be.However, when they’ve found you, it means they’re getting ready to make changes to their lives or businesses. So, if they ask you to call them back in six months, do it! Understand that Busy Bees are striving to turn into Client Type #7.

Type 7 – Clearly Leveraged
Clearly Leveraged clients know what they want—and what they don’t. AND they’ll tell you! These clients are focused. They’re looking for updated skills or tools. They know they’re not doing “X” right; they could be doing “Y” more. They’re coming to you for help with major changes; it is in their best interest to focus on what they do best and hire you to do the rest!

How do you attract more type 6 and 7’s?

  • Engage in honest self-assessment. Take care of the areas of your life that need your attention. Do you need therapy, a 12-step program, a gym, an increase in confidence, a new job, or additional experience? Whatever help you need, get it.
  • Create an ideal client profile and choose a target market. It takes time and effort to do this, but it’s well worth it if you can pre-qualify the right clients for your business. Professional organizers will tell you that for every hour you spend planning and organizing, you’ll save 15 hours of work.
  • Create questions on your intake forms and write your website content to help attract your ideal prospect. Weed out all but Type 6 and Type 7 clients. This is where saying NO will give you the time to get better clients—clients you’ll love working with and who will automatically refer others just like them.

Once you’re regularly attracting and serving your ideal clients, you will find yourself hearing and saying YES! a lot more. Especially when your bank statement arrives.

© 2010 Maria Marsala, Elevating Your Business. Brimming with over 25 years of business experience, Maria founded Elevating Your Business, a business development company dedicated to helping high-achieving independent accounting, financial, and investment advisors grow business empires the size of their choosing. Create the business freedom you desire by targeting your marketing efforts. Visit

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