Before we go any further it’s important to outline exactly what qualities a great client has. These are the things you want to take note of as they’re signs you can have a rewarding working relationship with them.
Great clients focus on value. They see you as an investment and focus on how much value they can realize by working with you. They don’t resist your questions about goals because they see you as a partner.
Ideal clients focus on outcomes. They’re concerned with goals and solving problems rather than specific tasks. Clients focused on tasks see you as an expense.
Great clients have clear goals they want to achieve and aren’t constantly changing their minds. They know what they want to accomplish and they want you to help them get there in the best way possible.
Great clients are respectful of your process. They understand the results they want are only possible when you are able to follow your process. They know your process exists for a reason and they respect not just the work you do, but how you do it.
You want to work with clients who respect you as a professional. They are happy and eager to defer to your expertise in areas you’re the expert in, and are also respectful of your industry.
When a client is eager to share information, this is a good sign. Explain why the information you’re asking for will improve things, but once you’ve done this, they should be happy to give you what you need to excel. They are not closed. They do not provide short or terse answers, but divulge in-depth information freely.
Great clients have realistic expectations and are willing to wait for great work. Even though they may not understand the specifics of your industry or work, they respect the realities of the creative process. They listen and respect when you explain why something takes as much effort or time as it does.
There is a clear and pre-existing trust with great clients. They are comfortable putting their project in your hands. This trust is built over time and comes from your proven track record, teaching, writing, case studies, testimonials and many other factors. Ideally you want clients who already have complete trust in you when they come to you. At a minimum, potential clients must have a non-trivial amount of trust in you. If a client does not trust you, there is a problem with the way they were acquired. You need to find out where they came from and how you can route future clients from that channel through your trust-building content.
Great clients are not emotionally attached to a solution, a checklist, or a specific set of tasks before the project begins. They don’t let their personal opinions or feelings get in the way and instead focus on providing what you need to achieve goals and solve problems.
They are happy to give you the space to do your work properly and respect the time frames and communication methods you set. They are willing and eager to step back and give you the latitude you need to do great work when the time comes.
You want clients who are good at business. If they’re good at business they’re going to be more likely to see that their relationship with you will bring them value. You shouldn’t have to convince them. They’ll have systems and practices in place to foster things that bring them value. Note that being good at business does not mean they’re cheap. Good business people know you need to spend money to make money. They also approach business in an ethical manner.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, and each client is unique, but it should give you a general idea of what a great client looks like.