All this talk about “fake” clients and “prospective” clients that waste our time made me think of an anecdote from Richard Bolles. For those of you that don’t know, Richard Bolles is the author of “What color is your parachute?” and is considered the leading career counselor alive today, if not of all time. If you’re wondering how a top therapist deals with tire-kickers, he describes this encounter in one of his other books:
Like us, Bolles saw clients in his private practice and received calls from prospective clients regularly. One night he received one of these calls. The prospective client was asking many questions, which is a clear giveaway for tire-kickers. Serious clients tend to only have two questions: “Do you take my insurance?” and “When is your next available appointment?” Rather than waste his time on someone that would never become a client, Bolles responded
“Call me when you’re desperate”
and hanged up the phone. Now a lot of you will think this is harsh, I’m sure. And let me just be clear, I’m respectful to everyone that calls me even when I can tell they’re just going to waste my time. So, I’m certainly not trying to encourage people to take this approach. However, I thought it was an interesting anecdote and a great example of how one of the most respected individuals in our field handles this problem.
An interesting side note: Bolles mentions that approximately three months later, the person called him again. The client reported that he was initially angry that Bolles hung up on him, but then as time went on, he realized that Bolles was right. Now that time had gone by, and he was indeed more desperate, he was ready. And perhaps that’s the common denominator between all of the “fake clients” I described in my previous post. They simply aren’t desperate enough. What do you think?