If you are like most service professionals and smallbusiness owners one of your primary concerns is generatingas many leads as possible. And that may be your biggestmistake, resulting in wasting time on unqualified prospectsand working with too many clients you wish you didn't haveto.

Bill is a financial advisor looking for clients. Workingfrom his stack of leads he picks up the phone and startsmaking calls. The first person he gets on the phone has lotsof questions and it turns out is just looking for freeadvice. After a half hour Bill finally gets him off thephone. Bill's next call finds a highly interested prospect.After forty-five minutes, he's ready to sign her up, when hediscovers she only has a couple of hundred dollars toinvest.

At the end of the day, Bill has spent eight hours on thephone and still hasn't signed up any new clients.

Do you ever spend time chasing leads that are just a wasteof time?

Martha is a graphic designer who has plenty of clients buther profits have been shrinking instead of growing lately.One of her long-term clients calls her daily with a questionor a complaint. Just when Martha thinks a project is done,this one client changes her mind and wants it redone. Andwhile the customer is always right, this customer's lack ofrespect and professionalism is starting to get underMartha's skin.

Have you ever had to deal with clients who waste your timeor are unrealistic in their demands?

A common mistake is to try to appeal to everyone, with theresult that you attract too many people who don't want to payfor your services and clients you'd rather not work with. Amore profitable marketing strategy is to position yourselfand your firm to attract just those clients that want towork with you and who you'd enjoy sharing your expertise.

Imagine that every lead you pursued turned into a client,one who you could be honest and direct with, a client whoyou looked forward to working with. You'd make more moneyand have more fun.

Wouldn't it be nice if you could pick and choose yourclients?

While you can't completely control who contacts you, you canuse your marketing to position yourself to attract promisingprospects and people who would make good clients. Here'show.

Define Your Ideal Client
If you want to attract the perfect client, you need to knowwho they are. Take out a piece of paper and write a coupleof paragraphs describing their characteristics.

- What business is your ideal client in?
- What is their role in the organization?
- Where are they located?
- What type of person are they?
- What is their situation?
- What are the problems they want solved?
- What are other characteristics that are important to you?

Use Your Marketing Message
People are far more likely to contact you when they have aclear idea of who you help and how. Increase the number ofqualified prospects who contact you with an effectivemarketing message and you'll reduce the number of "tirekickers" who waste your time.

Use Articles
Write and distribute an article and/or provide it on yourweb site, to help people understand your approach, who youhelp and how you can help them. Prospects who like and agreewith your thinking will want to contact you and work withyou.

Use Questions to Qualify Prospects
You can't be everything to everybody and it's a waste oftime to try. Create a short list of questions to qualify prospects. Use these questions when you call them on the phone and in the service inquiry forms you provide on your web site. If prospects don't meet your criteria, you can keep them on your mailing list, but avoid wasting your time by calling them.

If you've called one of them and they don't seem like a goodprospect, get off the phone in 3 minutes or less and move onto a more promising prospect.

Clarify Expectations
It is tempting to want to sign up every prospect that wantsto work with you. This is particularly true when you arejust starting up your business or when business is slow. Butbefore you close a deal or sign an agreement, make sure theyclearly understand what you will do and when. You don't wantthem emailing you every five minutes or expecting you'llanswer their phone calls at two in the morning or provideadditional services for free.

Make a short list of questions to ask that will help clientsdefine what they are looking for. When you talk with clientsuse these questions to clarify their expectations. If youcan meet these requests, use their answers to provide asummary of services. That way you will both be working fromthe same script.

Get Rid of Problem Clients
With only a limited number of hours a day and years in yourlife, you'll be happier and more profitable if you focusyour marketing on clients that understand and appreciateyour expertise. They'll be far more likely to return andrefer you to others. If you have clients who are unpleasantto work with or are taking up too much of your time, find away to tactfully get them to look elsewhere.

Use these marketing strategies to position your firm toattract the prospects you want so you can pick and chooseyour clients. You'll have more fun, increase your profitsand be more successful.

2004 © In Mind Communications, LLC. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

The author, Charlie Cook, helps service professionals andsmall business owners attract more clients and be moresuccessful. Sign up for the Free Marketing Plan eBook,'7 Steps to get more clients and grow your business'at http://www.marketingforsuccess.com