Mission impossible: 9 tips for dealing with demanding clients

by 04 Jun 2015
Sometimes your client wants the impossible: they want to pay you less; they want everything delivered yesterday; they want to do a deal outside the ordinary… Here are some essential tips to help you out when your clients make impossible demands.

1. Make sure you are clear
Firstly, make sure you are clear: It can’t be done that quickly, at that price, the deal isn’t within guidelines. Say it out loud. Not with a lukewarm ‘yes’, but a cold hard ‘no’.
2. Is it impossible or a new product?
And before we go any further, be certain that what they want really is impossible. All progress is indebted to the unreasonable person: what they want could in fact be your new product.
3. Write it down
But if not, to be doubly clear, write it down. If you have a procedure, make a client version of it, so they can read it in black and white: what’s possible and what’s not.
4. Try a different channel
Next option: try changing sensory channels. Some people believe things they see, others what they hear, what they read or what they experience. You’ve tried sound and the written word. So draw a diagram. Walk them through it.
5. Try a different person 
If that doesn’t work, get someone else to explain. This may work because the other person changes ‘channel’ (from words to pictures, as suggested). Or it could be their ‘convincer’.
6. They may have to meet it more than once
Research on convincers (how people decide) shows that we all need to hear, see, experience or read things a certain number of times or over a period before we believe it is true – until we are convinced. Every person has a different channel and a different number. One client may need to hear something for three months to make a decision. You may talk with them for three months before making the appointment. They may follow up on your quote three months later.
Another client may need to experience something once before deciding. Your client may just need to hear, see, read or experience why what they are asking is impossible a few more times to know it’s not possible. If your convincer is short, and your client’s convincer is long, then maybe it’s just about a little patience.
7. Last resort: refer them to a colleague
There is also the nuclear option: don’t provide to them. Refer their business to a colleague.
8. Check out your processes
Finally, if your clients consistently ask for the impossible, check how you are marketing to attract this kind of request. Look at your customer information, website, customer welcome packs, everything you give to clients. Make them so clear that you’ll cut out some of the impossibles.
9. Look after yourself 
In the end, the more fit, healthy and happy you are, the more easily you can convert impossible clients into happy, referring clients. So look after you!
Cindy Tonkin is the author of  ‘Consulting Mastery: being good is not enough’ and an expert in office politics. Find out more on consultantsconsultant.com.au.


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