As entrepreneurs working with clients is absolutely what we have the pleasure to do day in and day out. And 99% of the time, that works splendidly. However, there are those one percenters who without taking charge could derail the whole process. Here’s a list of challenging clients and what you can do to keep your business running smoothly.
Free Consult Client – We all get them. Those potential clients who set up a call to discuss working with you and before long it’s quite evident (probably from the 10 billion questions on how to do what they need done) that they are more interested in picking your brain than working with you. Another clear sign is when they ask you for examples of numerous things to “check you out.” I’m no dummy. I know you want those examples of “all I do” so you can cut and paste and fill in the blank your business information. You then can make your own, especially with the information you just hijacked from me.
The key here is to still be professional without giving away the farm. You truly can’t call them out, but you can take control. When you see it heading in this direction, start providing half answers such as “oh yes we love to do that for our clients and it’s so easy to do when you (and then provide one tip.) I’ve actually had calls where they want to know exactly how I write a press release and pitch as well as review my databases to make sure it’s a good fit. I knew and took control. You can also limit these by saying, my next call starts soon, and cut the call short. Don’t get me wrong, there are many times clients truly want to chat to make sure I’m experienced and I’m happy to share my processes and examples. But I can tell the ones who aren’t and try to remedy the situation as promptly as possible.
The Get More Out of You Ploy Client – Yes, we all have these clients who indirectly try and get more out of the working relationship than what is discussed and agreed to. For entrepreneurs this can be a big issue because we always want to do our very best and want to have happy satisfied clients. And definitely you want to continue to do that. What you don’t want to do though is fall for this trap so that you’re giving double, triple or even more to those clients who are clearly hoping you’ll do more to please them. Again, take control. Absolutely I have given more to clients and I actually make it a practice to do. However, when I see things going south badly and them start asking for the moon for the same amount of time, I politely take charge and let them know. A “I’d love to help with that. I believe it might take an additional five hours. Does that sound good?” works most time. You might have to reinforce it too at times. Also, be very polite and let them know when you see it turning into a problem. Don’t wait too long where you already are feeling the pinch.
The Nights, Weekends & 4:55 Clients – It’s critical in business to set your boundaries. The main reason for this is you do better when you do and are refreshed and also because you tend to get resentful if you end up working nights and weekends consistently. Now, I’m not taking an occasional email or two back. I’m happy to do those! I love my clients and I know they value me and my time and rarely do they take advantage. This is for those other clients who think the evening and weekends are the same as work hours. It’s when they send you work at 4:55 or later in the evening and expect it back by 8:00 a.m. the next morning. Or they send you a ton of work late Friday afternoon and expect it back first thing Monday morning. These require you actually working the nights and weekends. Once again, take charge and set your boundaries. Let them know you are happy to do these and provide a reasonable timeframe to return the work. Plus beware of the “only this timers.” Those often turn into the “only this time every nighters.” Not good. Not good at all.
The Non-Commit Client – These are lovely as well. Here we have the clients and potential clients who are gung ho, ready to jump and get started, at the gate and can’t wait to jump in and win the race. The only problem is you hear week after week and they never go. You plan for them and often times even move things around so you can commit, but it just doesn’t happen. Now, I’m not talking about minor delays. We all can relate to those. These are more the potential clients who say time and time again they are ready and never sign on the dotted line. It gets discouraging and can affect your business. Plus, you worry if this is the way it will always be working with them. You never getting what you need to do your work. Once again, take charge, be professional, and sometimes even let them know that you are quickly filling up and not sure you will be taking on new clients after such and such a date. Or in your proposals add an effective until date. Works like a charm.
The Crisis Client – Yes, we have those. Those clients that every other email you feel like you’re putting out fires or handling STAT situations. This turns into a crisis situation (quick alert the Swat Team) and you end up not giving your best to them and other clients as well. You’ll burn out and get stressed. And usually it’s not really a crisis situation, but more the client not aware of how it works. This can be a real easy fix. Often you just need to let them know things are cool, all is right with the world. Of course, there can come a time where this has to be addressed with the client in more detail with the main goal keeping you and your clients working together in a relationship that works and everyone feels loved and supported.
All the above cases are not for your typical we love you clients. These are those extreme cases that are turning into problems for you that you need to solve. So take charge and enjoy your business the way it should be. And by the way, no clients were harmed in the writing of this article.