How to Spot Problem Clients Before They Become Yours

Problem clients are usually easy to spot once you’ve been working as a virtual assistant for several years, but when you’re first starting out it can be more difficult to steer clear of them. There are some warning signs to keep in mind that can serve as red flags for you.

Warning_Problem Clients

Here’s what to watch out for:

The potential client badmouths previous virtual assistants.

If your potential client has worked with several virtual assistants in the past and complains about every one of them, don’t think you’re going to be the exception. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to please this client, it’s never going to be enough.

Once your project is over, they’ll start badmouthing you. This can cause serious damage to your reputation. If you encounter this behavior in a potential client, politely decline to work with him or her. You can do this by stating that you don’t feel you’re a good fit for their project, then wish them the best of luck.

The potential client has a vague idea of what they want.

Few things are more frustrating than working with a client that doesn’t know what they want. Maybe they want to hire you to create blog images, but they never go on to tell you anything else about the project.

These clients aren’t intentionally trying to cause problems. They just don’t know how to communicate what they want. But with a client like this, you’ll spend hours trying to create different drafts so you can discover what they’re looking for. Respond to this potential client by saying, “I’m sorry. I can’t help you with this project. Perhaps you should talk to (referral’s name).”

The potential client argues with you over pricing.

You might be tempted to dismiss this behavior at first. You might think your potential client has a small budget and is just doing some price comparisons. But clients that haggle over your rates usually have a budget big enough to afford your services. They just don’t want to pay you that much.

This potential client may try to pressure you into lowering your rates by saying something like, “My friend who’s a virtual assistant can do this job for half the cost.” The problem isn’t really about money. The problem is that this client doesn’t respect you enough to pay your rates.

The biggest mistake you can make with this potential customer is trying to justify your rates. Instead, tell the potential client that your rates are not negotiable and that they can contact you in the future if their budget increases.

The potential client wants to pay with “exposure” or “more work later”.

Occasionally, you’ll encounter a potential client that wants to give you exposure or more work later in exchange for your services right now. As a professional virtual assistant, you should always be compensated for your time. Remember that you can’t pay your bills or feed your family with “exposure”. 🙂

If you encounter this type of client, say something simple like, “That sounds like an interesting project but I have to decline.” Then don’t give this potential client any more of your time. It’s obvious that he or she doesn’t value it.

Don’t let this post scare you. Most clients looking for a virtual assistant are enjoyable to work with and will pay you a fair rate. In the meantime, keep marketing your services and searching for clients that are a good fit for your business. And most importantly….don’t settle for just any client to get someone in the door. You will regret it later.

Do you have additional warning signs to share based on your experience? Please share in the comments!

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