When you are a start-up company, you work with any customer you can find. You quickly learn that some customers are easy to work with and your business makes money. Others are very challenging and you find that they cost you much more than you receive. Getting excellent customers is very important to a business.
What makes an ideal customer? This may very from business to business, but I have found that there are very similar characteristics among companies that provide professional business services such as marketing, consulting, advertising, public relations, staffing services, accounting services, etc.. So what makes an ideal customer for me?
- Need: This is someone who is in need of what I provide. They are having a real problem that my services will solve.
- Budget: They have the budget and money to afford my services and properly buy what I provide. They are willing to pay for quality.
- Decisions: This is someone who is ready to buy and not just browsing. My ideal customer makes quick and solid decisions and is not a shopper.
- Communication: They know how to communicate what he/she wants. They have time and willingness to engage with me. They provide feedback to questions and will return calls and emails.
- Change: They have the willingness to listen and make changes to their business. They are open to new ideas and willing to ask and answer questions with openness.
- Realistic: They are realistic about what can be provided to them in terms of schedule, pricing and results.
- Reliability: They show up for meetings, respond to emails and take scheduled phone calls. They are not too busy to discuss the project at hand.
- Character: They are someone who has integrity and is honest about what they need. They are someone who I enjoy being with, doing business with and helping succeed.
I avoid customers who continually ask for help but are unwilling to implement even one suggestion. I avoid people who want a fool-proof guarantee. If there were one, they would be looking for an off the shelf, pre-packaged solution that could be purchased from anywhere.