When I started working with one of my clients, I was apprehensive. She didn’t fit the ideal client profile that I’d created. Usually, if I hear things that make me uncertain about a potential client, I close the sales call with an invitation to find another coach who may be better suited to their needs.
With this particular gal, there were a few flags that I felt foolish for ignoring. But ignore them, I did. I almost don’t want to admit this because it seems so silly now! Hindsight is 20/20, you know.
She didn’t have a business (this could have been a crimson flag!). She actually tried for years to create a business and it never got off the ground (this is not a fault to anyone, I learned. The timing just wasn’t right). Another red flag was the delays.
On paper, it doesn’t seem like we’d be a fit. Like I said, if I hear certain things, it’s best if we don’t partner up. Luckily, she had one big thing that made me break my typical rule: her attitude.
Through our time working together, we created a deep bond. I knew she was committed to following the entrepreneurial path and these delays weren’t her attempts to blow off work. So, we pivoted and paused and pivoted again.
Here’s what we did to help her live her success story — and what you can do, too, if you find yourself with someone who doesn’t check all of your “ideal client profile” boxes.
Obviously, I help my clients with their businesses. It’s hard not to let personal struggles in when you’re an entrepreneur, though, and we end up talking about both personal and business in my coaching calls.
Because my gal didn’t have a business at the start of our contract, we put very clear expectations in place. Business had to be the primary focus of our calls. As much as I adore hearing about all aspects of my clients’ lives, I was careful to keep her train on the business track most of the time.
We also had check-ins and were frequently recommitting to what we said we’d do. At first, she said she needed accountability to do research. I held her to that. When her plan changed, we reexamined the support she needed.
If you find yourself in a client relationship where you’re not sure exactly what the end goal is, or it keeps changing, set very clear expectations in place from the beginning and reevaluate them frequently to ensure everyone is on the same page of the same book.
During this time, we operated with rigid flexibility. With the delays, it would have been so easy to get frustrated and give up. We didn’t. We kept communicating about what would help her the most. She was always willing to be agile and so was I.
In other words, we had expectations of what we were both doing, yet we remained mindful of what was and wasn’t working and were willing to change paths when necessary.
Instead of making her stay a program that wasn’t serving her simply because that’s what we talked about (5 plans ago), I decided to move some calls and give her some extra support in a group. Because of that, there were lots of little wins that added up.
Along with checking in to make sure you’re working towards the same goal, ask your clients if there would be a better way to work together. Focusing on their success will sometimes mean offering a different solution than what was originally laid out.
Passion can’t be faked. My gal had the work ethic and desire to create something successful; her attitude was always focused on what she could do to follow the breadcrumbs that were laid out for her.
At the end of the day, those traits matter more than fitting into an ideal client profile.
Success Tip: Watch out for a client in “prove it” mode – when they force you to “prove” to them that you can get results instead of them being willing to work.
It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes, people come to you in “prove it” mode. That is a deep, dark, crimson flag to watch out for, even if someone checks all of the boxes on your ideal client profile. If they’re in “prove it” mode, their willingness to do anything uncomfortable will be in the negatives.
When you come across someone in your business that isn’t a “perfect” fit, take a look at what their attitude is like. Are they willing to do the work? Are they willing to be open to all possibilities?
If they are, they are worth breaking your ideal client profile box. Not everyone in this world who wants to work with you will be your ideal client. Sometimes, you have to say yes to perfectly imperfect folks!
My gal unsuccessfully tried for 9 years to create a business. She’s now at the 9-month mark on a business she’s absolutely in love with.
After getting to know her and listening to her vision, I had this sense that I could help her get on the right path. So, I broke my rule and said yes to working with her because I could see the whole of what she wanted, not just the boxes on an ideal client profile list.
In the end, she is an ideal client because she committed to doing what she had to do and I committed to helping her be successful.
Have you ever worked with someone who went from being a less-than-ideal client to someone you adore working with? Did they have one or two traits that mattered more than completing the whole ideal client profile? Share with us in the comments!