It was a normal day in the office. We were a team of three back then and would take it in turns to answer the phone.
A call came through. It was an enquiry. The enquirer wanted to know if they could use our office address to receive their post. The call was transferred to me.
It wasn’t an unusual request. I have been asked about this a few times over the years. My stance has always been this. Unless I have worked for a client for a long period of time and know them well, then my answer is always no.
I took the call anyway.
It started pleasantly at first. The caller explained that they were an estate agents and were thinking about opening an office in the small town where I was based at the time. Their current office was approximately 30 miles away from mine and they wanted somewhere for their post to be delivered whilst they found a new property.
Alarm bells started ringing in my head.
It didn’t make sense to me why they would want post delivered to my office if they had to drive all the way to collect it. It would be just as easy to either have it delivered to their current property or they could have set up a Royal Mail PO box in town.
After having an initial chat, keeping the conversation pleasant, I asked that question.
The reaction was not one I was anticipating.
Suddenly, the caller became extremely aggressive and accused me of making out that they were corrupt in some way.
I kept calm.
I repeated that I couldn’t understand the reason for the request and said thank you for their enquiry but I’m afraid it wasn’t something I would be able to help them with.
The caller then became threatening. Stating they knew where my office was based and that they may pay me a visit.
With that, I thanked them again for calling and put the phone down.
You maybe be thinking, well, so what?
Well, the threats were personal, and I genuinely felt frightened. Something of this nature could not be ignored. Especially as we were three women in an office on our own.
I contacted the police, gave them the phone number of the caller, and let them deal with it.
Turns out that the person was, let’s just say, not very honest. And definitely not an estate agent either. It seemed they wanted a drop off point for goodness knows what!
When you run a business, you start to get a gut feeling about who to deal with.
If something doesn’t feel right when you’re having a discovery session (an initial call), chances are your gut is right and you’re best to walk away. This is why it's really important to know what questions to ask potential clients.
Creating a discovery call questionnaire template will help you with your client onboarding process. It’s something you can have to hand as a prompt and will also act a a reminder. Believe me, you can forget things in the excitement of talking to potential clients!
When starting a business, and even when you have been established for a while, it is easy to feel like you should work for anyone who knocks on your door.
It isn’t worth that hassle in the long run. You’re better off spending time finding clients you really want to work with.