8 Client Types That Are Nothing But A Pain In The Ass

This morning on the Sage Partners, Employees and Alumni Linkedin group someone posted an article titled ” The Five Clients You Should Avoid Like The Plague“.

The post resonated with me because over the past year it seems like I’ve run into just about one of every type of client mentioned.

Just to be clear — the problem clients are 98% orphans. That is, they’re existing users of Sage ERP MAS 90 who’ve left their prior consultant for whatever reason and are searching for a new consultant.

There are a multitude of reasons that clients switch consultants. And I’ve hear all of them – or so it seems.  It’s to the point now that I hardly listen to the reasoning and instead I’m looking for warning signs of whether the customer is one that we’d be able to (or want to) service.

The typical warning signs almost always result in a polite “no thanks” to their initial inquiries. Those warnings signs are the big ones: Multiple consultants over a short period of time, shopping for a detailed fee quote, asking to buy software without services or giving us the ability to survey what they own or how they use it, filthy rest rooms (in my experience a dead-on indicator of how they treat their employees).

There are however another 8 types of clients that I’ve run across. Though well intentioned – they’re just not worth the time and effort to pursue. Unfortunately you’ll only learn this through the experiences of dealing with these types.

The 8 types I recommend avoiding?

Eight More Clients To Run From

  • The Bait And Switcher — asks for a detailed quote, project plan, opinion on the technical merits of a project — all before they agree to hire you. So what’ s the big deal? Well — they never hire you. But some other low bidder gets a copy of your project plan and The Bait and Switcher makes sure the low bidder gets the benefit of all your (free) ideas that you shared.
  • The illusionist (also known as “third bid seeker”) — disappears the moment a printed quote arrives in their inbox.  Leading up to this prized quote will be dozens of emails back and forth. Then after they obtain the prize – suddenly everything goes silent <crickets chirping>.
  • The DIY (do it yourself) specialist – has worked with some form of your technology back in the DOS days and is positive nothing has changed and wants your rock bottom price with no service but will call immediately upon purchase to complain that he cannot install the software and his IT specialist says that the software is a piece of crap.
  • The leech – You failed in a moment of weakness and provided a free support question answer because it was faster to give the one word answer than a three paragraph speech on the importance of support plans. Now this person calls, emails and messages you like you are best buddies — always for a free question.
  • The quickie (also known as “you better not bill me”) – Always starts the conversation off with “hey quick question” which means that he considers the question so easy that it’s not worth paying anyone for. He’ll never explain why if the question is so quick and easy that he’s seeking you out for an answer.
  • Honest Abe – These are so rare that you may encounter only one every three years. They’ll email and admit right up front that all they want is another bid because their process requires it (and for some strange reason honesty works because I usually provide it).
  • The perpetually wronged — He’s had three VARS in the last two years and none of them knew anything — or so his last four controllers (also over 3 years) told him.
  • The Mr Big Shot — Has a really big project that he wants you to work on. Some day. Until then he’ll call every four months for a minimum 2 hour conversation (which as he explained the last time you tried to bill for it “should be free because it’s client development”). After five years of wondering when that big project will start he’ll call to say he’s found someone cheaper — but let’s be friends.

These are the top ones that I can remember who I’ve encountered in the last six months of 2010. I’m sure there are more. Who’d I miss?