One of the things I learnt early on in my business was that it would take a couple of years to decide whom we like to work with and whom we should avoid working with like the plague! Sometimes you can pick up clients who turn out to be clients from hell – they are like vampires sapping our energy.

On my masterclasses I ask people about their clients from hell and most have had at least one. They sap your energy and make life miserable. Clients from heaven, on the other hand, give you joy. Most people, after a couple of years in business will have experienced a client from hell and many have had the experience of a client from heaven.

I just thought I would give a few simple tips of how to avoid the clients from hell that I have picked up along the way…

1. Weed them out

Knowing the difference between your customers from heaven and hell in terms of types of person or culture will help you look for the symptoms when you first engage in conversation. One of my clients from hell I call the ‘Know it All’ – There are a lot of things that know-it-alls do and say that will give me warning signs. I will be polite but will find a reason to not proceed

Just because you can close a sale does not mean you should. ‘It will end in tears’ is a favourite saying. One business owner I know was recently faced with a staff mutiny provoked by a client from hell.

2. Avoid creating them

We need to face the possibility that if we have a lot of clients from hell – it could be us! I had one client who, when I first started working with him confessed ‘I hate my clients! They are all really hard work – never satisfied’ It turned out that the lack of process in his business meant that the clients became unhappy and took it out on the staff. Having spoken to a few of his clients it became clear to me he needed to improve the way expectations were set and delivered.

If you have created a client from hell it can often be turned around. If you do they could become a client from heaven and spend and refer a lot more…

3. Seek clients from heaven

The more blue water you have between what makes a customer from heaven and a customer from hell, the easier they become to find. Maybe there are some aspects that you could use in your marketing to attract them. When networking get much more specific. Educate your contacts as to who you would like to do more business with. Talk in terms of ‘an ideal client for me is……’ Seek and ye shall find and all that……

I do believe that increasing one’s flexibility and working on soft skills can greatly increase the range of clients that fit in the ‘heaven’ category I also believe that you cannot please them all!

One person’s client from heaven could be another’s client from hell. When networking with people who do something similar, why not find someone who relishes working with your clients from hell and refer the on. Who knows, they may refer back a client from heaven!