As Conrad Levinson, the author of Guerilla Marketing series of books, once said: "There is extraordinary chemistry that exists in long-term relationships." After my fair share of complicated conversations and attempts to dissuade my client from non-viable ideas, I found some truth in this statement. But I suspect Conrad’s done a lot of learning over the years.
I believe that clients who are tough to work with are key to success in doing business. Some clients may be difficult because they’ve had their share of bad experiences with different vendors before they came to you. Sometimes, it’s hard to get along because of different mentalities or high expectations. Sometimes, it’s just something you can’t put your finger on.
Of course, the parameters of the client’s "complexity" aren’t set in stone. In fact, it’s a subjective matter. We all handle things differently. The same client could be a nightmare to work with for some managers, while others have no problems communicating with them.
So, in the end, you have to rely on your level of professionalism and personal qualities. Hitting the books might give you an idea about the world of client relationships, but they won’t make you prepared for everything.
When speaking to clients, compile a list of facts that break your usual time frames and working mood so you could find the root of the problem and work through it. It’s like treating backache — you have to locate the source of your pain and only then fix it.
Working with a client is probably the most exhausting job ever and making them happy is a big challenge. However, overcoming this challenge is extremely rewarding. Whenever I receive some special commendation for the work I carried out, I forget all tiresome and complicated moments. That experience allows me to stay in control, approach communication issues with a clear mind, and look into matters without anxiety. In almost two years working as an SDR with different clients in industries like branding, solar energy, SaaS, music, and automotive, I’ve managed to set over 500 appointments.
Some of the lessons from my clients
Listen to your client. Every once in awhile, approaching the format of your work from the SDR’s point of view isn’t enough. Instead of being the provider and deliverer of services, you have to think as if you were your client’s right hand. And remember that you want to discuss things with a client as an equal. That particular client chose to work with you, so you must be the person that can be trusted and reliable.
One of my clients is a team of cool, young guys, founders of a creative agency. At first, our communication was a bit stiff (which is pretty normal at the initial stages) but then I felt that I was doing something wrong. Soon, I realized that it was me who was withdrawn and overcautious in the conversation. However, if you want to be good at your job, you have to overcome your doubts, let yourself be genuine and confident. Be open and honest and you will see that clients cherish your personality and skills. Humans matter, not robots.
You should constantly stay alert, especially when it comes to situations that can harm your client’s image. If you are a professional, you’re free to use all the ideas to save your client in case the plan goes wrong.
Ahhhh. For some reason, whenever quick action is needed, my clients respond slowly. Of course, I understand that they have to go through the nine circles of hell like managers, heads of managers, accountants, and even more staff to greenlight their damage control plan. This is why if the time is short and it takes too long for your client to act, you have to step in.
I’ve already been through a crisis like that: no answers in the mailbox, no appointments, and no feedback from a client. After some follow-ups and no success, our team decided to take matters in our hands and outlined a plan that included possible strategies and results that would end up with changing a negative dynamic to a positive one. The client only had to choose the option and give us a thumbs up. After all, being proactive is rewarding.
Stay in balance
New York Times says that 20% of your projects make up 80% of your business. When it comes to relationships with clients, 20% are your core focus. This is where you make sure that all your clients get attention.
I remember working hard to build the most effective campaigns possible for one particular client. Not only did I end up feeling like a squeezed lemon with no joy at the finish line, but also I had to deal with the turmoil caused by my other client getting benched.
Building relationships is important, but so is dedicating 2-3 hours a day to each client.
Make your connection personal
Being on friendly terms with your clients is a great way to keep an eye on the details. Be open and sincere with a client.
They say that great minds think alike and get along and that is a pure truth. Under many circumstances, you can have unsuccessful and successful campaigns running, but good communication will also let you make the most out of all ups and downs.
One of my clients decided to stay with me in spite of the current crisis thanks to the connection we managed to build within our first month of cooperation. Whenever there is trouble or need for communication, I know I can speak to them directly and receive their feedback.
Sometimes, things just don't work out
You have to accept that you work with people and all people are different. Sometimes, everything you can do is to learn from your mistakes. Sometimes, you need different attitudes and methods to achieve fruitful cooperation.
Once you make a list of constraints and setbacks that resulted in a failed communication, you discover a way to improve your skills and learn lessons. This will enable your business to move in a positive direction filled with growth and desire to work each day. In some cases, if you try everything and see that nothing works out — just let it go and finish the project. Whether it’s the bad timing or low viability, some projects just don’t hit above their weight.
Be brave enough to face a few intractable people along your path.
Don’t let your experience with tough clients and customers bring you down.
If you can't change the situation, change your attitude toward it. Also, if it’s hard to change your perspective, remember that negative experience is still experience.
One day your client may do a 180 turn on your arrangements, and this situation will be the test to your ability to build your career and use your personality.
If you want to be successful in your business, staying mature, and assessing situations with your head instead of your heart is a must.
A sense of humor can also be of great help, especially when things don’t work out and you have to move on.
Work on self-development, never lose your touch — and you’ll find yourself less stressed out and more hyped up.
I’d like to summarize this piece by thanking our clients who made us stronger and more professional! You are truly amazing 👏👏👏