What if there was a crystal ball that could tell you whether or not a client was going to be a problem in the future?
There is. It's called the past.
One of my glaring faults is that I am overly hopeful that people are going to change. I can't help myself. But I have learned not to listen to my heart based on the relatively consistent truth that the past is a very good indicator of the future. So if you have a client who is slow to respond in the beginning, they will be slow to respond later on.
Also pay attention to how quickly they respond in the beginning. Give them tests such as an important question in an email and see what their response time is. Consider other variables such as travel and vacation schedule and also their workload. If you see that it takes you two or three or even more attempts to get a response, that means that you are not a priority. Not yet at least. It also goes without saying that this is limited information and that it is incomplete. We don't have all the facts but are making snap judgment calls with the intelligence available to us. Most of the time this technique works but there are always exceptions.
If you have a client who was quick to respond in the beginning but their response time changes, then that means there is a new or a changed variable in the algorithm. Maybe there is another search firm involved. Maybe the position was put on hold. Maybe it was something you did or did not do that turned your client off. I have had clients who worked this way and it turned out I didn't do a very good job presenting myself compared to my competitors, so I had to get back in there and resell myself. As Don Draper said on Mad Men, "the day you sign a client is the day you start to lose them."
Copyright © 2016 Scott Love
Scott Love is a leading authority in the field of executive search and high level selling. In addition to working as a high-stakes headhunter for Washington law firms, he is a popular keynote speaker at sales meetings for all types of recruiting and sales organizations. Companies that want more influence with prospects hire him to speak at their sales meetings and conventions. To learn more how you can gain more influence with high-level clients, visit his website at www.scottlove.com.