This year, I realized another long-held goal in my online business. I no longer hold discovery calls with potential clients. I have completely delegated this system to my lead project manager, who vets every single new client my team decides to work with.

Dreams really do come true, my friends.

But delegating a nuanced task like this requires a lot of reflection. Assigning a task with a detailed SOP is one thing; how can you teach someone to identify a nightmare client? And while it took some time, a fair bit of a training, and some solo-calls for her to get her feet wet, I’m coming to you this week to tell you: it can be done.

Here are the three warning signs we use to identify nightmare clients & avoid them like the plague. (Tweet it!)

They talk shit

The second a potential client starts talking shit about their past (or present) VA or OBM, my crazy radar kicks into high gear. And I don’t mean a candid conversation about why their last VA or OBM wasn’t the right match for their biz. I’m talking about shitting on their team member. Unless you have the opportunity to talk to the person you’re replacing, you really have no idea why they didn’t work out. And you could be the next person this client is bitching to the world about — unless you play it safe.

Maybe their last VA or OBM really was a shitshow. Or maybe this client goes through VAs like like toilet paper because they don’t have the time or patience to train them properly. Whenever a potential client gets a little feisty when discussing their last VA or OBM, my go-to questions are:

  1. What’s your procedure for training new hires?
  2. How long was this person on your team before you realized they weren’t a good fit?
  3. Do you feel there’s anything different you could have done to ensure their success in your biz?

If their answers are, “I don’t have one” … “4 days” … and “Her success isn’t my responsibility” — WALK AWAY.

They’re too eager to get started

These are the clients my team and I lovingly refer to as “HAIR ON FIRE.”

They’re coming to you mid-launch because their current team doesn’t have the bandwidth to get everything done on time. Or they’re on a tight deadline for XYZ project, and frantic to find someone on short notice. These are the people who CAN’T WAIT to start working with you. You leave your discovery call with them thinking, “That was too easy…”

But that’s just the thing. If they’re too easy to close, they will pay you back ten-fold when you start working with a frazzled, stressed, entrepreneur who’s on the edge. They don’t want you to take the time to audit their business and get to know the ins and outs of their systems. They want you to start managing projects IMMEDIATELY with no point of reference.

Maybe they won’t show you their crazy or let on that they’re desperate. But some of the most annoying clients I’ve worked with have been SUPER eager to get started and seemed totally normal until we got down to business and the real truth of their desperation sprang forth.

Be warned.

They’re not receptive to feedback

Listen. These people are supposed to be coming to you because you know your shit, right? That’s why I’m always wary of potential clients who aren’t receptive to my feedback in discovery calls.

I’ve worked with dozens of clients over the years. I know what works and what doesn’t. Let’s say an online entrepreneur without a social media presence signs up for a discovery call to learn how my team can help them grow their business. But they bristle when I mention that a Facebook presence will be integral to their growth because they “hate Facebook.” Or they spend more time in the discovery call telling you “how it’s going to be” rather than absorbing your recommendations and expertise.

There are people who are not meant to grow a team. They are not delegators, and they don’t work well with others.

These people are a bummer to work with.

Just sayin’.

Now over to you: how do you weed out the good clients from the bad? Have you ever had a “nightmare client” experience? Lay it on me!


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