Saying “No” to Potential Clients

I really liked these practical tips from designer Mark Busse teaching us when to say “no” to clients.  I’ve taken the liberty of replacing “designers” with “lawyers” and find the advice not only relevant, but spot-on:

The fact is that [lawyers] are defined by the very work we produce and by the clients we work for, so if you want to excel and be highly successful, you need to be thoughtful, strategic and diligent in deciding what opportunities you accept.

On working for “crazy” clients:

Nobody wants to work with crazy people, right? It’s just not worth it. And as your reputation will be linked to those you work for, it’s important not to rush into opportunities just because you need the experience or money. Remember that you should be evaluating clients and projects as much as they are you. Ask questions. You owe it to your own sanity to poke around first.

A few of his six practical tips:

2. Consider your long-term goals in terms of the kind and calibre of projects you’d like to do and be known for. If an opportunity won’t attract the kind of clients you seek, or the project may serve as a distraction or inhibit you from taking other work, consider declining.

4. Practice talking openly about money up front. Ask what the budget allocated for the project is. If they refuse to divulge that information, that’s a red flag. If you are forced to be the first to offer an estimated budget before real scope is established, resist the urge to offer a low price to win them over—do the opposite and offer a higher budget range. You’d be surprised how often this positions you as a confident expert in the minds of the buyer and increases appeal.

What are your tips for declining client work?  Do you have your own Client Worthiness Index?


One Response to Saying “No” to Potential Clients
  1. Joel Ungar
    July 10, 2013 | 8:07 pm

    As I think I may have commented on other posts, you can substitute the word “attorney” with “accountant” and it applies just as well. For that matter, just about any occupation.

    Great information.

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