If you’re an agency or a consultant, then you’ve faced a needy client one time or another. You know who I’m talking about:
- They call you multiple times a week to get updated on what’s going on with the project
- They frantically feel like the world is ending because they haven’t seen results since last week’s meeting
- They request daily email updates from you
- Meetings are stressful because they want results yesterday and they don’t understand that strategy takes time to implement
- They constantly contradict themselves and want to change strategy every few days without waiting for the original strategy to take effect
Client management and interaction is one of the hardest parts of becoming a consultant. You need to conduct yourself in a professional manner, and need to focus on keeping the client emotionally happy. They key here is the emotional part because even if you’re hitting your goals and the project is going well, the client can still feel like things are falling apart because emotionally he may feel unsatisfied with the partnership.
Focus on success and keep your client emotionally happy
Here are the ways to keep your client emotionally happy and focus on having a successful campaign with your client:
I. Before the contract is signed
Before the contract is signed, you need to make your methods of communication and goals very clear. Let the client know exactly how many phone call meetings they can expect a month, how many email reports for the campaign they can expect a month, and what the best methods of communication are. I personally prefer emails over phone calls and make sure to let clients know that the best way to reach me is through email.
Goals and expectations must also be made clear before the contract is signed. Happiness is based on expectation, so if a client is expecting X+3 but you only deliver X+1, then the client will be disappointed and feel that you did a poor job. However, if a client is expecting X and you deliver X+1, then it looks like you went above and beyond what was expected of you and the client will be emotionally satisfied with the results.
What not to do
I have seen a lot of agencies and consultants promise their clients anything and everything they request during the sales calls in order to close the client and get a signed agreement. Sure they get the client, but then they have to worry about actually meeting and hitting expectations during the campaign that are now unrealistic.
Don’t put yourself in these positions. Be honest and confident with what you can produce, and if it’s not good enough for the potential client, then it’s better to let the client go. Setting realistic expectations and meeting the expectations are the keys to maintaining an emotionally healthy client.
II. During the campaign
Confidence is everything minus 1. If you are confident in your abilities and demonstrate this to your client, then they will trust you and your campaign. You must religiously stick to the agreed upon communication process and never schedule a phone call with a client outside of the agreed upon times unless it is absolutely HUGE emergency. (By HUGE emergency, I mean that you’re not hitting your expected goals and the client is threatening to abandon the campaign)
Look, every client is going to email you a bunch of times throughout the week and is going to request phone calls to clear up certain areas of the campaign. It is your job to let the client know that emails are all the communication you need and that you have everything under control. Here is an example:
A recent client scheduled an “emergency” phone call with a team member. He of course met with the client during the phone call and realized that all the client wanted to speak about was an event launching in 3 weeks that the client wanted to tape and broadcast. The phone call lasted about 30 minutes when it could have been resolved with a 2 paragraph email. I spoke with the team member about managing the client’s expectations and making it clear to the client that maintaining these types of communication via email is best for the effectiveness of the campaign.
If you’ve established clear and realistic goals with the client, and you’re hitting those goals throughout the campaign, then it is easy for you to maintain the level of communication that you agreed upon. Lets take a look at how to deal with a needy client when you’re not hitting the goals:
III. The angry need client
This is my favorite client of all!
I think a very valuable lesson that I have learned is that you don’t need to keep every single client. Really take a look at your clientele and apply the 80/20 rule to figure out where the majority of your revenue is coming from. I promise that you’ll notice that your most needy clients are paying the least amount of money.
If the client is angry, frustrated, and needy, this just puts an extra amount of unnecessary stress on your mind, company, and team. You don’t need to immediately let the client go, but you do need to stay firm to the agreed upon communication methods and revise the goals for the campaign. I would suggest something like this:
I understand why you feel unsatisfied with the campaign. Like we said in the beginning, these things take time and we need to see the campaign all they way through before we change course. This is all a part of the process.
These types of emails and phone calls are unproductive on my part and your part. We need to stick to our agreed upon methods of communication and we can reconnect in two week during our scheduled phone call. We are 100% confident with the campaign and we just need to be patient and see it through to the end.
If this email is not good enough for the client, let them leave. You’re better off not stressing over a client that is bringing your company and team down.
Would love to hear about your methods of dealing with a stressful client. I’m sure we can all learn from each others experiences!
Jun Loayza is the President of SocialMediaMarketing.com and the Co-Founder of Viralogy.com. If you’re a young entrepreneur as well, feel free to reach out to Jun to chat about startup, music, fitness, and life. Jun’s favorite quote: “It’s not how hard you push along the way, it’s having it in you to finish”