Know Your Clients

I don’t know why I don’t write more about business, finances or projects, but maybe this is the start.. who knows..

What I do know is that I sat in a great talk this weekend by my good friend Steve Zehngut, Founder and CTO of Zeek Interactive. To get a sense of how awesome they are just check out their Google tagline:

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 11.55.30 PM

That’s right, they make cool shit. What more is there to know?

Classifications…

In all seriousness, if you have not had an opportunity to listen to Steve talk then you’re missing out.

In this presentation he was specifically talking about saying NO, in the process he enlightened the group with client classifications that many of us have probably thought about but probably have never written down before. Important to note though that these classifications are of others clients, not his own…;)

So I want to share with you, his very insightful and eloquent classifications:

  • The know it All
  • Clueless
  • Sidekick
  • Invisible Man
  • Scroooge
  • Liar
  • IT

Now, the last thing you want to do is 1 – share this list with your clients, and if you do 2 – never tell them where they fit.

What Do They Mean?

Instead of providing descriptions for each, Steve decided to provide quotes that we might come to hear form each category and it was so appropriate I found myself chuckling:

The Know it All

Often recognized by terms like:

I can do this myself but… That should be pretty easy to do..

Clueless

The complete opposite of a Know it All:

The internet is down… What’s this browser thing…

Sidekick

We all know this guy..

Wants to be your buddy.. wants to be in your grill.. high maintenance.. shows up unannounced… things they are on the project…

Invisible Man

Can’t get a hold of, disappears, things to look for:

My schedule is so busy, you should see my travel schedule..

Scroooge

Also known as the Tight Wad

My nephew can do this much cheaper.. that was totally in scope

Liar

Also known as Pinnochio

I am positive we discussed this…

IT

Is typically a combination of everyone..

We’re going to run WordPress on Windows… Knowledge transfer…

Besides the humorous nature of the classifications it hit me how relevant each one was. His main take away actually wasn’t the classification itself, but rather the risk associated with each one. More importantly, how that risk fit into your own business model.

The Real Point

Whatever your classification, you have to understand your clients and you have to price and make decisions accordingly. Each client bring with them there own unique set of challenges, the best action you can take is prepare for them. Having managed small projects in the few thousand dollar range, and huge multi-million dollar projects and programs, I can tell you first hand that there is no such thing as a perfect client.

Looking for the perfect client is like the girl that looks for the perfect guy. She’s now 60 and still looking..

Things To Consider

What there is though is your own ability to measure and assess how each client relates to you, your business or your project. Assume the load they bring, load in terms of time, energy and budget, and adjust your estimates accordingly.

A few things to ask yourself when engaging your client:

  • Is this client going to be high-maintenance?
  • How much engagement is going to be required with them or their team?
  • Does your client listen or talk? Which do the prefer?
  • Do they know what they want?
  • Can get any insight into their engagement with other vendors?

You have to come up with your own list, but the idea should be very clear. Establish a baseline to work from and determine what I call risks, and others call red flags. Those red flags are going to determine your way forward.

To get the full effect of the talk I recommend you take 60 minutes and watch it here: http://chrislema.com/the-business-track/