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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Clients: Love them or leave them

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They nickel-and-dime you, don’t return phone calls, threaten to take their business to another advisor, make unreasonable demands yet expect fast, flawless delivery of your service. They’re what I call “pain in the you-know-what” (PITA) clients, and they sap more time, energy, and patience than all your other clients. Yet we frequently accept this bad business, thinking it’s better than no business. But is it? We pay hidden costs for PITA clients–including resources we could use to attract and service the phenomenal clients we want and need to make money!

Weeding out PITA clients means communicating–to yourself and your referral network–what you’re looking for.

Here’s how to hone in:

  1. Create a profile of your “Ideal Client”. List the characteristics of people and companies you would bend over backwards to get on board.
  2. Become an artist. The more color, lines, and detail you include in your description, the easier it becomes for others to recognize the picture and refer your ideal candidates. Targeting just “anyone” often means picking up more PITA clients.
  3. Be specific. Don’t worry that being too specific means you leave good business on the table. The exact opposite occurs. The more specific your description, the easier it is for someone to refer you. If a prospect doesn’t meet your criteria, say “NO!” It may seem unnatural and scary at first to turn down business. But I’ll bet your “Ideal Client” will be right there waiting for you.

America’s leading authority on referral selling, professional speaker, and author of No More Cold Calling, Joanne Black helps sales teams get more referrals and attract more business fast without increasing costs. Discover how to turn prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time. Visit


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