Sometimes it looks reliably easy to get a new client in business. You meet, you chat, terms are agreed and away you go. Often, though, it's less straight-forward than that and there's an awful lot of wrangling goes on before everything's signed on the dotted line. It all takes a bit longer, but in a relatively short space of time you're actually getting rewarded for your efforts.
However, there's always the really, REALLY, tricky ones, the clients who seem to come and go via meetings and proposals and phones calls; the clients who never actually seem to become clients. You know the ones – you meet them, they say they're really interested and you invest a whole load of time trying to get the ideal package together. Then there's more meetings and more discussions and even more delays and then, suddenly, you realize it's three months later and you're still no closer to signing them up.
I'm always in such a quandary with these. What to do for the best? Continue to invest time and effort which you're well-aware might never actually turn into any financial reward? Continue to take valuable time out of your day to yet again meet and discuss the same old proposal? Or do you admit defeat and walk away, with part of you relieved to not have to waste any more time going everywhere, but deep down always wondering whether you should have given it one last try?
I suppose the question I'm asking is when is enough, enough?
The clients who take the most effort to engage are usually the ones you regret taking on six weeks later when they're making increasingly unnecessary demands and generally making your life miserable. But, on the flip side, they're often the most lucrative. So just how much time should you invest trying to win them over?
In the four years I've been running Athena, I've still not managed to work it out. There's a voice inside me that tells me to walk away and admit defeat, but I hate giving up. And then there's another voice that's telling me that this could be the next big thing and think of the difference it could make to not only your bank balance but your business as a whole so why not give it just another week …
That's where I am now with a “client” who's been promoting me work since October last year. Part of me realizes that I'm probably chasing rainbows on this one and I really bought it to realize that it's never going to happen. But then that little voice in my head just will not let me give up.
So next time they call to arrange a meeting, I really should tell them I'm not interested. I should, should not I? But will I? Probably not!
I'll tell myself I'll DEFINITELY get them on board this time …