Evaluating potential clients

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to choose the best clients. I want to have a systematic approach that can be repeated for everyone with whom I might work.

I’d also like to be able to share this approach with others, so I’m working on an article to help freelancers evaluate potential clients. I started by putting together a list of questions I might use. Here it is:

  1. Do the client’s values align with mine?
  2. What is their ability to pay?
  3. Will I be able to publicize the work afterwards?
  4. What’s the likelihood that the work will go live?
  5. Is there proper executive support in place for the project?
  6. What “good” will this work do in the world?
  7. Does this work have strategic value for the client?
  8. Does this work have strategic value for me?
  9. Are they assholes?
  10. Will I be able to measure the impact of my work?
  11. Will I be able to use interesting metrics (such as stress created, confidence created, other perception-based metrics)?

Obviously, this is incomplete and brings up a bunch of things I’d need to decide upon before I could complete such an evaluation (these will be addressed in the article), but it’s a start.

My question for you: how do you evaluate potential clients? What questions to do you ask? What red flags do you look for?

If you post a comment, I’ll let you know when the article is published. Thanks!

1 thought on “Evaluating potential clients”

  1. Bradley-
    This is a great list, and quite functional. If I may add to it: I always ask if they have ever worked with a firm like mine. Typically, they have not. But if they have, I like to know what their experience was like, and why. If the previous firm is similar enough to mine, I can glean some valuable intel and insight as to how I will be perceived, where I can improve my value proposition, and most important, I can identify potential pitfalls, and mitigate or neutralize them early doors.

    I also like when my Client is the first to drop an “F-bomb”. Then I know we’re in business.


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