Savvy Speaks: What Makes an Ideal Client?

Savvy Speaks: What Makes an Ideal Client?
Savvy Sisters - Wed Nov 17, 2010 @ 03:00AM
Comments: 12

Though this blog is aimed at B2B marketers, some of our most loyal followers are fellow consultants. And we enjoy the exchange of insights, suggestions, and tips with these folks. With that in mind, we're sharing our thoughts on what freelancers and consultants should look for when in discussion with potential clients. Next week, we'll offer up advice on how B2B marketers can choose the best consultant/freelancer to suit their needs.



At this point in my career I am no longer interested in doing a single small project for someone. I don't want to just write your brochure copy, bill you and move on. I am a relationship builder by nature. I want clients who are looking for a consistent mutually respectful relationship where we all bring our A game and produce something that neither could have done on our own.



By far the most important trait a client can posess is respect - respect for the consultant's knowledge and time, respect for budgets, commitments, and delivery dates. In return, the consultant must have respect for the client - his needs, comfort level, goals, and opinions.

Without mutual respect, no relationship - business or otherwise - will last.

Wendy Thomas


What makes an ideal client ?

Well there are the obvious ones like prompt payment, clear expectations, and respect for each other but there are also some not so obvious characteristics that can make or break a deal with me.

I'm at the point in my life where I don't have to work with just any old job opportunity that comes my way. I have earned the right to be selective.

When I work with a client (or a Doctor or my kids' teachers) I expect to be viewed as an important team member. I understand that you are the client, but if you are hiring me to consult, you need to understand that I am going to be offering my professional opinion based on the information I'm being given. I may not agree with every decision made in the process and I understand we may not end up doing it the way I propose but I expect to be heard and acknowledged along the way.

Back in the day when I worked for Digital Equipment Corporation every single employee got a frozen turkey at Thanksgiving and then again at Christmas. You talk to any ex-DECie and their eyes will glaze over when remembering the turkeys. It was a small token that ended up making an huge impact on the employees. Everyone loved their turkeys.

It's the same with clients. Any company that throws me an occasional turkey gets my allegiance. This is one of those cases where it's the thought – the showing of appreciation – that counts far more than the gift. Without going Pollyanna on you, life is just too short for me to have to work with people who aren't nice.

I also like to see creativity, inventiveness, a sense of humor, and compassion - throw in a good dose of social consciousness and you'll have me at “Pleased to meet you.”



I value working with clients that embrace the tenets of content marketing -- or that are interested in adopting them. Collaborating with marketers that "get it" is energizing and helps ensure I'm continually honing my skills and expanding my expertise. And -- to Heather's point -- it's more about a long-term relationship than one-off projects. These relationships are a win-win. The client sees better results and I end up with experiences and engagements that reflect best practices.

Join the conversation! How do you assess the likely success of a potential client relationship?

Tags: interviews
Comments: 12


1. John White  |  my website   |   Thu Nov 18, 2010 @ 04:28AM

One person's great client is another person's lousy client. I like for clients to be interested in me as a person as well as a professional, but that might make some other consultant's skin crawl.

One of my new clients makes a lot of small, annoying mistakes - missing e-mail attachments, incorrect time zones, forgetting to track changes in a draft. These things tell me he's a reluctant marketer, and I probably won't get the long-term support I need to build a base of content for him. I don't mind the work in the meantime, but I don't smell "the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

I like a client that makes me think. And I like a client that lets me make him/her think.

2. Jamie Lee Wallace  |  my website   |   Thu Nov 18, 2010 @ 01:45PM

@John - Great points. I also tend to get "personal" with my clients. It's not always the most profitable move, but I feel more fulfilled about what I'm doing when I can relate to my "partner client" as a human being and not just a task on my to do list. :)

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