Bad “Gut Feel” About a New Client? 4 Easy Questions Will Resolve Your Worries.

If you work for yourself, you’ve probably come across them: Potential clients who feel a little off.

It’s hard to explain what about these strangers makes your gut churn. But, if you have a queasy reaction about a certain job or individual, your intuition could be trying to tell you something useful. Like, don’t work with that person!

Still–what if this odd-feeling client comes along just when you need business? Or they offer you an easy job for lots of money? It’s hard to say no when someone offers to pad your pocketbook.

Is there a way to both respect your intuition and the financial health of your business?

The answer is yes. I recently found four excellent questions that you can ask yourself if you have a bad “gut feel” about a new client. Tamara Suttle, M.Ed., LPC, a psychotherapist and marketing expert, shared these questions on a forum I frequent. I wanted to repost them because I found them so incredibly useful. She writes them from the standpoint of a psychotherapist, but I found them handy for anyone in a service profession:

1. How did you find me?

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The answer to that could be very telling. And if it’s not, you still get marketing wisdom out of it.

2. Have you ever worked with a _____________ (fill in profession) before?

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“If they are new to the profession,” says Suttle, “then I’ll probably to need to do more basic or thorough education about how things work.”

3. Did you find it useful?

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“If they’ve had good experiences before, I would like to know what they are so that I understand better what they like. (I’m always curious why they didn’t return to that professional),” says Suttle.

4. What did/didn’t work for you with that professional?

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“If they’ve had bad experiences, I don’t want to step into the same holes. I may need to do so proactive work to rebuild trust in the profession and correct misassumptions or expectations. If possible, I want to know how they handled the bad experiences – assertively, passive-aggressively, filed a lawsuit, etc.

This conversation takes place with every potential client’s phone call . . . right after I ask “How did you find me?” and I know it has saved me many a headache! If my red flags start flying, I’m referring that one elsewhere!”

Tamara G. Suttle, M.Ed., LPC has maintained a private clinical practice since 1991 and founded Private Practice from the Inside Out in 2003. She has spent almost 20 years consulting and teaching marketing strategies to health care professionals like you. You can learn more about her clinical practice at her website. Or check out her blog, All Things Private Practice.

  • Thanks for the great reminder.

    These are great questions. The second one has worked for me in the past, but now when it happens I will see the binoculars and big green question mark in my mind. Great post!