Sleazy guy two thumbs up

Ever have a job where it just seems like it’s just not worth your time? It might seem counterintuitive to turn away business, but not every lead is worth it. It takes so much work to get a good lead these days that turning one away seems wrong, but it’s not always worth your time. 

Remember, time is the most valuable resource you have, and wasting it on bad leads is just money down the drain. Unsure whether a lead is worth it? Here are three general types of people to avoid.

The Fisher

These are sometimes easy to spot, and sometimes not so much. Beware the potential client who sounds very vague about their business plan, or spends all their time talking about how much you charge, rather than their product, their brand and their goals. Often start-ups are required to present a plan to potential investors and they’re looking for a proposal to pad out their bank loan application. They may have zero intention of ever hiring you at all.  Other times, the “fisher” could be going through the motions of getting three proposals to fulfill a legal requirement, when they plan on hiring their sister-in-law, or are staying with their existing service provider. Sometimes they just want to know the bottom line price-wise, but they’ll try to knock you down to a price you cannot make money at. Don’t be afraid to say no and don’t give up your margins just for the sake of working. If it just isn’t profitable for your company, you need to know when to draw the line. 

Important note: If all your leads look like this, maybe you’re just too expensive. Keep an eye on what competitors are charging to make sure you’re not pricing yourself out of the market. 

The Traitor

Sometimes clients might ask for in-depth proposals to show your expertise. There’s nothing wrong with writing a detailed plan, but be careful not to give away too much. 

There’s a chance they may just take your ideas and run off with a competitor. Always try to put effort into your proposals, but don’t hand everything over to them. Find a balance between keeping your strategy vague, but reveal enough to keep them interested. 

The Dreamer

A lead might sometimes assume your team could change the world for them. After they hire you, they expect you to bring in thousands of clients, create hundreds of viral videos, and get their faces on national TV. There are two main dangers here.

Unrealistic expectations will definitely spell trouble for you later on. It can be tempting to promise the sun and the stars to win a client, but you have to be clear about what you can and cannot do. This will help you avoid arguments (and lawsuits!) later on.

We understand it’s a huge deal to beef up your portfolio, especially if you don’t have much work under your belt. If there’s a big name (but unprofitable) client, it might still be worth it for you to take the job.  All we can say is use your common sense.