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How to Distinguish a Good prospect from a Bad One: are they in enough pain?

Posted by Ilise Benun on

Are there prospective clients who reach out to you, suggest working together, express interest, even excitement, but nothing ever comes of it?

I’m sure there are because we all deal with those people. They’re not necessarily tire-kickers but they’re not quite serious either. Is it you? Did you do a bad job at promoting yourself? Is that why they don’t sign the contract or respond to your proposal?

I say no, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their pain – or lack thereof.

This is an idea that was initially introduced to me by Erin Pheil of She presented it at the Creative Freelancer Conference in San Francisco. Her presentation was both compelling and original and she made a very persuasive case for why you should look for people "in pain.Web-pain (1)" (She wrote about it here.)

But what does that mean – people in pain? As I’ve thought about it since then and observed my own flow of prospects (the ones who sign up for my free mentoring session), those I’m able to help are the ones in the most pain – although it can’t be excruciating. Best are the ones who are serious and have a problem they need to solve sooner rather than later, but it’s not “do or die” If so, it’s too late and there are many other problems at hand.

For me, the top 3 painful situations I hear about lately are:

1. “I had one big client on whom I relied too heavily. Now they’ve pulled their work in house and I need more clients but have no foundation to build on.”

2. “I’ve gotten all my work through word of mouth but that has slowed down in the past year and I need more clients.”

3. “I have plenty of clients but they’re all too small with no budget and don’t value my services. I need better ones, and soon!”

What does “client pain” look or sound like for you?
· A prospect that needs something turned around quickly, with a rush project? (Is that the kind of pain you want to deal with?)

· A client who hired someone who did a bad job and now it has to be repaired?

Let us know…share your pain!

*Credit: Illustration by Iain Keith -  

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