Think about the customers who really make your day—the ones you’d rate a 5 out of 5 if you were an Uber driver. They’re probably some combination of nice, generous, fair and prompt in paying you…not to mention quick to sing your praises to other people who need what you sell.

Wouldn’t your life be a lot easier if all of your clients were just like them? The good news is it’s possible to build a customer base made up of gems like this if you ask prospects the right qualifying questions before onboarding them. Here’s what to ask.

Why did you reach out to us?

Understanding why a potential customer is motivated to buy will help you assess whether it makes sense to start the onboarding process in the first place and build your business around people you will be able to serve successfully.

Let’s say you offer diet and nutrition coaching. When you ask why a prospect has called you to set up an appointment, he tells you, “My wife said I need to lose weight.” You know from past experience that someone has to be motivated from within to make lifestyle changes to succeed.

Although it might be tempting to try to sign up this client for a package of 12 coaching sessions right off the bat, you might be better off, in the long term, if you book one session with him, ask him to make some small lifestyle changes in that first meeting and then see if he makes a second appointment. That would demonstrate he is committed to moving forward and would benefit from ongoing coaching.

There’s a chance, of course, that he might not move forward, but isn’t it better for your business is you only take on clients who will truly benefit from your services. Those are the customers who will give you the word of mouth recommendations you need to build a thriving business.

What is your timeline?

A client who mentions a specific deadline will, understandably, be more motivated to move ahead and work collaboratively with you than someone who has no particular time pressures.

Once you know someone’s timetable, you’ll also have a sense of whether he or she has a realistic understanding of how much time a project might take you and engage in an honest dialogue, so you can set clear expectations.

For instance, if you’re a bookkeeper, you may not be able to clean up a B2B client’s sloppy bookkeeping for the whole year in a couple of days. However, you may be able to tell the client you can confidently get the first quarter done in that time period and see if that would be amenable. Doing what you promise will help you build a strong relationship from the get-go. And if you really can’t deliver according to someone’s schedule, you’ll build a better reputation by being honest about it.

Do you have a desired budget in mind?

Whether you cater to business-to-business clients or consumers, they probably have a certain amount of money set aside to cover an intended purchase. Knowing what that is will help you weed out those who cannot afford your services at the moment.

You don’t necessarily have to turn away clients who can’t afford your premium services. For instance, if you run a marketing firm and normally charge a $5,000 a month retainer but a client only has a $1,000 a month budget, you could offer to provide ala carte services for a flat fee, instead, on an as-needed basis. Do a great job on those projects, and she will very likely consider you when she has grown to the point she can afford to put someone on retainer.

What other solutions are you considering?

If a client is looking other options you consider worthy, that’s a good sign. For instance, if you run a professional services firm and the client is talking to other respected professionals in your field, at least you know he or she values high-quality professional services. Then you can point out what differentiates you from these competitors.

If, in contrast, the prospect is comparing you to an ultra-cheap, automated solution, you’re talking with the wrong type of potential customer—someone who doesn’t fully understand the value of working with your type of firm. Keep the conversation brief and devote the time you save to other prospects who truly need and value what you offer.

When can we get started?

Some clients tend to do a lot of advanced legwork before they do business with anyone. They might, for instance, start their hunt for a dentist in August if they plan to move to a new community in January. Others may be a lot closer to engaging with you.

Knowing how ready someone is to buy will help you shape your communication rhythm accordingly. There’s a fine line between being enthusiastic and pesky, and by asking the right qualifying questions, you’ll be able to understand exactly where that line is so that you start off relationships with customers on great footing.