When was the last time you took a phone call from someone you couldn’t stand?
All of us have people in our lives we avoid.
We all know people we wish we didn’t know.
Each of us has a client, customer or patient who can ruin our day simply by leaving us a voice mail.
The question for you is: “WHY?”
Not: “Why does this person aggravate you so much?” but “Why is this person on your client roster?”
You have the power to select your clients so why on earth would you work with someone who makes your skin crawl?
Submitted for your consideration are some criteria you may find helpful when you select your clients.
How many of these criteria do you consider when you invite someone into your office?
They Can Afford to Work with You
You are in business to make money. Charge fees you believe are fair and appropriate and do not work with people who cannot pay you. Reducing your fee below your comfort level does not make you noble. It makes you foolish.
If you want to work with someone pro bono, that’s fine. That is a charitable contribution. Once in a while, it may help you feel good about yourself to do that. Do not make it a habit.
They Allow You to Do Your Best Work
An orthopedic surgeon should not routinely perform appendectomies. A real estate lawyer should not regularly try patent infringement cases. Liquor store owners should not manage daycare centers.
Select clients who allow you to do your best work.
They Are Decisive
There are few things more frustrating than hanging around with people who take 45 minutes to decide on a soup at dinner.
Working with clients who take forever to make a decision is no less painful. Your clients should be able to make a decision on engaging you to represent them. They should also be able to weigh the facts of their case and be able to make decisions in their own best interest once they engage you.
If they cannot make these decisions, you should not select them as clients.
These client selection criteria may seem a bit unusual. Most people simply use the “check-in-hand” criteria (if the client has a check in hand, you accept it and them). But those clients, more often than not, will subject you to aggravation and heartbreak.
Take a few minutes right now and examine your own client selection criteria. Where can you make some changes and how will these changes improve the quality of your business and the quality of your life?
Everyone wants to know the handful of things they need to do in order to be financially free. We all want the keys to success.
Unfortunately, there are not just a few keys to success. There are dozens.
But in the interest of keeping my readers happy, I have distilled success down to five things (if for no other reason than to have a good title to an article).
So here they are. The five keys to business success:
Focus on Growth
It’s convenient to believe that simply hanging your shingle will result in people flocking to your office doorstep in droves.
It’s easy to rationalize that all those years you spent in school entitle you to the lifestyle you “earned” by studying and practicing in the comfort of an academic environment.
You trick yourself into believing that being a great practitioner will be enough to attract people to you.
Stop fooling yourself.
If you don’t spend AT LEAST as much time promoting your business as you do practicing your craft you will never be financially independent.
Lawyers rely on reputation and referrals from past clients and other lawyers.
Doctors rely on insurance companies.
Business leaders rely on the wonderful products or services they possess.
Nobody’s thinking about growth and yet we are shocked when people do not engage us.
If you want to make a great living and live a great life® you must spend at least as much time on business development as you do practicing your craft.
Possess a Dedication to Continuous Improvement
Humans either continue to evolve or we die. You got opposable thumbs. Congratulations. Now get off your iPhone and figure out what you can do to help your client improve the quality of his life.
Before you can help the next patient that walks into your office or provide guidance to the next client that sits in the chair opposite your desk, you must understand the world they live in. You must understand how it is changing. You must understand how they think. What they believe and how they make decisions.
These are moving targets.
If you want to hit them you need to grow and evolve faster than the people with whom you work.
Keep your education up to date – but not just in your vocational field – also as it relates to business development and practice management.
Adopt an Action Orientation
Once you know what to do, you must do it.
This is where many professionals fail.
Want a solution?
Each day make a list of three things you want to accomplish, and then start working on them.
If three is too many, make a list with just one thing on it.
No fancy system necessary. Just get started.
Deliver High Value with Low Labor Intensity
The pitfall of the lawyer is hourly billing. There are not enough hours in a day or days in a year for you to bill your way to financial freedom.
The trap a physician falls into is his reliance on the insurance rolls as a way to obtain his patients. Insurance companies have made doctors commodities and people select them like they select a can of corn niblets off a shelf in a supermarket – by looking at the name on the coupon they have in their hand.
You deliver value to people. Start demonstrating that value to your constituents.
The next step in the equation becomes to deliver the value to your clients/patients with low labor intensity.
A lawyer helps clients adopt children. To the client, the process is time consuming, paperwork intensive and confusing. Since the lawyer has done this hundreds of times, he knows the pitfalls and how to avoid them. That’s valuable to the client. What’s also valuable is that the lawyer is available, during business hours, to answer any questions the client may have. If he’s busy, he guarantees a call back by the end of the business day. And those calls are included in his fee.
An internist accepts a limited number of patients. He charges each patient $250 per office visit, and his staff helps the patient fill out any insurance paperwork necessary for reimbursement. The doctor also guarantees appointment times. This means his waiting room is always empty. If patients want to prepay for visits, they can purchase them in blocks of 10 for $1,500. The average doctor on this method can see 10-12 patients per hour and realize about $25,000 in revenue per day. The patients in this type of practice tend to be busy business people who appreciate the doctor’s respect for their time. The average patient spends less than 20 minutes in the doctor’s office and the pharmacy he is affiliated with delivers prescriptions directly to the patient’s home of office.
Now these specific solutions may not appeal to you but I guarantee there is a way for you to create a high value, low labor intensity solution in your business. You need to find it.
The final success factor is as simple as they come.
Don’t quit until you get what you want.
Most people give up after the first attempt at something.
The person who tries until he dies (or succeeds) is not only more likely to be more fulfilled; he is more likely to be successful.
The good news about this is you don’t have to be smart to be a financially independent professional. You just need to be persistent.
You sell more with a simple mindset adjustment.
You can develop new relationships in 60 seconds if you are focused and prepared.
Guilt holds you back.
Think about it.
Are you where you hoped you’d be in your business, career and life?
Have you been working harder and harder only to find yourself achieving the same results?
Does it bother you when you see people who put in less effort make more money than you?
Have you ever seen someone make a dramatic transformation in their business in a short period of time?
Want to know how they did it?
They eliminated guilt from their life.
One of the key elements in making a connection and closing a sale in 60 seconds is your mindset.
Guilt is holding you back, Guilt is preventing you from capitalizing on your ability.
Get rid of it.
You were raised in a good, moral household by good, moral people. Part and parcel with being “good” is living with the heavy, sickening feeling you have when you do something bad. That feeling is guilt.
As you grew up you received mixed signals from the people around you. Your parents taught you right from wrong and they used those negative feelings to help reinforce their teaching.
Think about it.
What is the point of “time out” with a small child? You isolate him from everyone for a period of time to correct his conduct. You make him feel guilty so that he will not repeat a specific behavior.
Instinctively, you learned about guilt at an early age.
Now fast forward to your adult life as the owner of a business. You are chugging along making the same income as your peers. Everyone in your circle of friends is making within 10%-15% of each other.
Then you land a few big clients and your income doubles. So you pay off your bills, buy a better car and move into a bigger home.
Suddenly, your friends stop hanging around. Your college buddies no longer call. And you can’t find anyone to go with you to a fancy restaurant to have dinner.
You’re isolated and you begin to contemplate the consequences of your behavior.
This is the adult version of “time out”.
Realistically, it doesn’t happen this way. But our minds convince us it will.
That’s where guilt really gets you. It sets up scenarios in your mind, like the one I just described.
These guilty feelings, associated with success that has not even occurred yet, prevent us from taking action.
What can you do about this?
Make a deal with yourself to turn your guilt inside out. Make a conscious decision to feel guilty IF AND ONLY IF you have not given everything you have toward achieving your goals.
The only time you feel guilty is when you don’t try your best.
Do not let the value judgments of another person influence the effort you put into your business.
Your potential is limited only by your ability to generate ideas and act upon them.