Dear Gritty VA:
I have a prospective client I’ve been talking with for about two months now. He was supposed to have signed a contract and paid his first month’s fee on the first of the year. We’re now into February and he still hasn’t done it! He keeps going back and forth, asking me to do this and that first. I’m not sure how to handle the situation at this point. What should I do? –BE
Two words: move on.
As a small business, you can’t afford to have your time and energy wasted by ditherers. Save those precious resources for those clients who are ready to work with you.
This fellow isn’t committing because by indulging in his whims, you are giving him permission to be indecisive and thereby waste your time. At this point, you need to get clear about how things work in your practice. Let him know you have all the information you need, you feel you can help him, but in order to move forward, here is what needs to happen (and then outline those things).
Be gracious. Thank him for his interest and tell him once he makes a decision, you’d be happy to talk with him again (if that is the case). Invite him to sign up for your newsletter or whatever other free offer you provide. Tell him you’d be happy to stay in touch with him through your mailing list if he’d like.
But do let him know that you can’t guarantee there will be an open spot in your practice for him at a later date–because you can’t. Your job is to fill your roster with right-fitting clients who are eager for your support and ready to work with you.
The ball is in his court now. Time for you to stop jumping through hoops.
Your best clients are right around the corner. But you make it twice as hard for them to reach when you allow the path to be blocked by not-quite-right-nor-ready clients. Likewise, if you don’t expect a commitment, you won’t get one.
So don’t do that. Learn to recognize the point at which your time is being wasted. Save your energy and focus for your ideal clients.