Today a deeply-respected colleague shared his #1 disqualification criteria for a potential consulting client:
"The biggest pain in the butt is a CEO who has no history of failures but yet somehow launched a successful business and now believes that he has a Midas touch that turns any project into pure gold with a black caviar topping (which, of course, leads to depreciation of every external idea that comes his way)."
A bit harsh? Maybe, but, to my taste, extremely accurate.
Some more "red flags" from my playbook:
- The client opens the meeting with a long and ugly monologue about how bad is the vendor that he is determined to switch. Reason for skepticism: even if you win the contract, chances are that in a couple of months, your team will be next in the "idiots galore".
- The potential champion is in the "yes-yes-yes, we need this" mode and doesn't challenge your offer during the first meeting. Reason for skepticism: he or she will not fight for your project and will chicken out at the first uncomfortable question from their colleagues. (this tip is courtesy of Jen Allen
- The client doesn't deliver on the small commitments (I'll get back to you at XXX; I'll send you YYY by the Zzz date etc.). Reason for skepticism: such attitude shows either a low level of interest in this particular project or an overall inability to follow through.