I’m attracting the wrong clients – they don’t pay up. What do I do?

Dear Aunty B


I’m new in business and seem to be attracting the wrong clients. I’ve got great staff, offer a great service, have my systems in place – but seem to attract startup companies with no funds and I end up offering some complimentary service to get their buzz or unethical giants who don’t pay.

How do I find clients with my business ethics or who can afford me?


Good Clients only!




Dear Soft Touch,


Have you got that tattooed on your forehead: Don’t pay me?? You, my dear, are taking “try before you buy” too far.


Why on earth would people pay you money if they know they can “try and don’t buy”.


Why don’t you go into charity? Or start a volunteer organisation?


STOP giving things away! No one will ever pay you, you devalue your brand and send completely the wrong message to staff, to your network and to your clients. Clear on that?? OK.


Now finding the right customers is one of the hardest things to get right in the business model whether you are a start up or a grown up company. Let’s helicopter up. Remember when you came up with your big idea? What problem was that solving and for whom? Which customers have the most compelling need for your product?


Who was going to love your product and truly appreciate your product? Make a list of those companies and look at what their compelling need is. Also which customer would kill to keep its competitors from your product. That is your Good Client list. Now set your prices and go and target them.


If your product is a bit run-of-the-mill, what can you do? You need to be tricky.

You need to create a buzz so that your product is seen as desirable. You could do that by linking it to a celebrity or creating some underground campaign.

How about offering the product exclusively to one company in that industry?

Work on a long relationship with a large client and get them to endorse the product so you are their approved supplier and then tell all and sundry.


If none of this works – it is back to basics. Maybe you have created a product that is in search of a market. DANGEROUS!


What is your value proposition that compels a customer to buy?

My friend Tom McKaskill says the ideal position for any business is to have a product that satisfies a compelling need in a medium to large growing market, has no close competitors and is able to protect its competitive advantage for some length of time.


He suggests you think about these questions:

  • What problem are you solving? How important is it that the customer solves that problem?
  • Are you satisfying a need or a desire?
  • What degree of compliance (penalty or cost) results from not buying?
  • What happens if a customer does not buy?
  • What alternative to your product or service could they buy?
  • Who is required to solve the problem? What happens if they don’t?


Finally you could just be hopeless at selling. Go and get yourself a good salesperson. Ring Sue Barrett, our great sales guru and get trained up and toughed up.

Come on soft touch. You have a business to run!


Hope it helps. Have a great weekend.



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