Tips for Dealing with (and Winning Over) Difficult Clients
by Mashum Mollah Marketing 08 January 2017
Regardless of what business you’re in, you’ve likely had to deal with demanding clients. Some clients are a breeze, and you wish you could fill your day with them, but unfortunately, they tend to be a rarity. While not every client is full-on difficult, when those clients do come along it can be exhausting and frustrating, to say the least.
Regardless of whether your client is a little tough or a full-blown nightmare, you still have to make it work with them, and ultimately you have to win them over.
The following are some tips that can help you along the way.
Try For Face-to-Face Meetings If Possible:
In today’s digitally-driven workplace environment, you may have clients that you communicate with exclusively by email, or maybe the occasional Skype call, and while this can work well for easy clients, meeting face-to-face can be a better approach with demanding clients.
This can be particularly true if you can learn how to entertain clients in a way that makes them feel more comfortable.
Generally, if you’re face-to-face it’s a lot harder for even the prickliest of people to stay tough, and they’re more likely to break down their own barriers.
Be Honest and Candid:
When you’re dealing with a client who’s tough, you might have a natural inclination to try and overcompensate, or win them over with a bit too much niceness. That can make you seem sales-y, and for most clients that are tough, being overly sales-y is the worst thing you can do.
Instead, approach the situation with a genuine sense of concern for the best interests of the client and their business or their life. Be honest and upfront with them. It may be intimidating at first, but ultimately the hardest people to deal with initially are going to warm up a lot faster if they feel like you’re transparent with them.
Sometimes tough clients aren’t just the ones that are difficult to convince or win over. They can actually be the ones that demand your constant attention and expect you to jump through impossible hurdles.
With these clients, it’s important to start creating firm boundaries at the start of your working relationship.
That might mean only answering their emails and phone calls during office hours, or setting schedules for your phone calls.
Difficult clients tend to respond well to boundaries, at least once they get used to the idea because they often respect people they see as a firm.
There may be difficult clients who want to see you fail. They might see it as a type of test. They can want to ruffle your feathers and see how you react.
If you remain calm and professional but also assertive, you’re likely to win them over in the long-term.
You neither want to seem like you’re always apologizing nor becoming too aggressive.
Difficult clients are an unfortunate reality, but by learning how to effectively communicate with them, while standing your ground, you’re more likely to actually turn them into loyal customers.