Have you ever had a new inquiry come in that you were so excited about and then you have the consultation or phone call with them and you get this feeling in the pit of your stomach that this is not going to be a good fit? I think we’ve all been there.
I wanted to chat with you about how to easily let a client down (aka let them know you’re not a good fit).
Ok, cliché aside, this really is true. Hopefully, by this point in your business, you know who your ideal client is and work hard to book those ideal clients and kind of weed out the “not so ideal” clients. This is for a few reasons, A: it makes your “work” such a joy, and B: it helps build an amazing and consistent portfolio.
So what are some reasons a client may not be a good fit? There could be a lot of different reasons, and not all of them are obvious. Maybe they don’t have a budget that aligns with your style, maybe their vision is night and day to what your design aesthetic is. Or it could be something as simple (and justifiable) as you just don’t have a good feeling about the process and how difficult a client may be.
Guess what. You are the boss and can make those decisions. If you don’t have a good feeling about a potential client and think that working together is going to be a nightmare due to X, Y, or Z — then you do not have to book them!
I know it’s easier said than done, trust me. One main reason is the fact that turning away business is super tough, especially if you’re starting out or struggling to book clients consistently. But I can promise you that your gut feeling is oftentimes right and all the money in the world can’t change some of those “trouble clients”.
Another reason (my biggest hold up) is the “confrontation”.
How do you tell someone you don’t think they’re a good fit to work together without sounding mean? Especially when they’re willing and ready to book/pay! I hate confrontation, I will honestly avoid it at all costs. But sometimes you have to put on your big girl pants and suck it up.
So here is where it gets a little gray.
Well, there can be a few different ways and they will vary based on your business and what you’re personally comfortable with. I know some people recommend telling them you’re already booked for that date/time frame. However, if you’ve already had a consultation with them and as a stationer who isn’t “date based” like planners or photographers, that one is a little hard.
If your reason for not being a good fit has to do with your design aesthetic (they want something way out of your ballpark that you’re used to or the style you love) you can genuinely use honesty (worded tactfully). Let them know that you love their vision, but based on your style and the aesthetic you stick to for your clients, you don’t think you could fully bring that vision to life as they deserve. You could then list some recommendations on stationers who may be able to meet their design aesthetic. (looking for recs? Check out our stationery FaceBook group!)
I would recommend taking some time to sit down and write 2-3 short responses for the different scenarios listed above to “let down clients” and just store them in your canned emails or drafts. This will allow you to easily refer to them and tweak them as needed and be able to send to a potential client that you don’t think would be a good fit.
While it would be our dream for every inquiry to be our ideal client, that’s not always the case and you need to make sure that if you don’t think you are a good fit for them, that you determine why that is and if it’s something you need to discuss with them or if you need to break out one of your responses.
I have been in a situation where I went against my better judgment and booked a client and it was definitely NOT worth the money for one reason or another. I promise that when one door is shut, another (ideal) one is opened!
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