Signing on a difficult client is basically a right of passage when it comes to being a web designer. I’d even argue that you’re not a seasoned web designer until you deal with one client who you massively regret ever taking on because they’re just so annoying, so nitpicky, or such know-it-alls.
With that logic, I became a seasoned web designer in 2018 when I signed on my most difficult client yet. While I massively regret ever taking her on as a client (my mind at the time just saw a whole lotta $$$), I learned a lot about what makes a client difficult and how to spot a difficult client on a sales call before getting that contract signed.
To try to save you from taking on too many difficult clients, I’m sharing what I’ve learned with you today in the form of 5 warning signs or red flags that you can 100% see during sales calls.
Warning Sign #1: They Miss Their Scheduled sales Call or Reschedule it at the Last Minute
Clients should respect your time, just as you should respect theirs. This means, missing their scheduled sales call (free consultation, brainstorming session, or whatever you call it in your business) without so much as a notice is a huge red flag.
They scheduled the call, they picked the time that worked for them. Which means you prepared for it and set aside that time for them. Them not showing up without a notice means they don’t care that they just wasted 30 minutes of your time that you could have spent doing something else. Even a last minute notice asking to reschedule is pretty disrespectful (unless it’s a true emergency).
If they can’t even make their free call that THEY SIGNED UP FOR, you’re going to have a heck of a time getting them to meet deadlines.
Warning Sign #2: Your Sales Call is Uncomfortable and Awkward
There are plenty of fish in the sea… seriously. If you get onto a sales call and you feel uncomfortable, then don’t move forward! I don’t mean the uncomfortable you feel when you reveal what your prices are. I mean, the conversation just isn’t flowing right and the vibe between you and the lead is off and awkward.
You want to work with people you connect with. They may not become your best friend (or they may!) but you should at least feel comfortable with them. If you don’t, the entire time you’re working together is going to be full of grumbles and thoughts like, “I really don’t want to reach out to them again.”
There really are plenty of fish in the sea. Pass up on a project that is going to be super uncomfortable and make room for someone who vibes with you better.
Warning Sign #3: They Question if Things Can Be Removed From Your Packages to Make It Cheaper
Your price is your price for a reason and your package is your package for a reason. A lot of effort goes into designing and building a website and a lot of value comes from a website that is done right. So your price is your price for a reason and your package is your package for a reason (don’t forget that).
If a lead starts asking if you can remove XYZ from your package and says things like, “if we removed that one thing from the package, how much would the price drop by?” run fast. This is a huge red flag that the lead is a penny-pincher and that they don’t see you as an expert that knows best. A solid lead and your ideal client won’t blink when you tell them your prices and they’ll understand that your packages reflect what should go on and be included in a converting website.
Warning Sign #4: There is Push-back on the Price in General
Some leads won’t even ask you to remove anything from your package. They’ll just straight up tell you they can find the same service somewhere else for a cheaper price.
You know what I say to that? Go right ahead!
When a lead starts comparing your services to someone else’s, it’s time to realize they aren’t your ideal client. If you lower your price for them so that they sign on, they’re going to push-back on so much more than just price.
Warning Sign #5: They Tear Apart Your Contract
Contracts shouldn’t be taken lightly because you never know when something might happen between you and a client. But this means, your contract should be legitimate from the start. If your client takes the time to tear apart your contract bit by bit, highlight sections and rewrite them, only to send it back to you and expect you to just say “uh huh, yes okay that looks good,” then you should rip that contract up and say goodbye.
(This one happened to me and I was foolish enough to not rip up the contract. It was a looooong 6 month project!)
You know who your ideal client is and you know how to find them (if you don’t, read this). This also means you should know who your ideal client is not. Even if someone seems like they’re the one you’ve been waiting for, if they show any of these 5 warning signs, I suggest you think twice before signing them on as a client.
- Rescheduling or missing a sales call
- Uncomfortable sales call
- Questioning if things can be removed from your package for a lower price
- Pushback on the price in general
- Tearing apart your contract
Don’t get yourself stuck in a situation you don’t enjoy. Because you didn’t start your own business to be miserable!