Whether you’re in a professional position of leadership within your organization, an employee, or an entrepreneur… you care for, serve, and lead your clients! Clients are what make your business matter; without clients you simply have a great idea, a vision, passion, and dream… Clients make it count! Since clients are of utmost importance, let’s define what they are and who they are. I define clients as people or organizations you do ONGOING business with; perhaps it’s one deal or service that takes time or multiple deals and services over time… that’s a client. As a leader, you or your organization will be involved in fulfilling your client’s dreams; therefore it makes sense to know what type of client you’re working with and what they need most out of the experience of working with you. I’ve found there are 5 Types of Clients, so what to do?
The Ghost is the client that disappears after the contract has been signed. Let’s back up… you or your organization have courted the client and earned the opportunity to be of value and impact. Afterward, the client becomes a ghost, and you don’t hear from them or see them unless you reach out. This can happen for many reasons: perhaps they trust you and don’t want to be involved, they’ve gotten busy with other things, personal issues, a promotion, the list can go on!
The positive is you have free reign to do what you set out to do and be of impact in your way without interruption, interference, and no micro-managing! For some, the feeling of this type of autonomy is great; allowing you to lead your way.
The negative is, contracts don’t last forever and there will be a time to reconvene and decide if you and your organization will continue as is, add more services, different services, or part ways. Best case scenario is you nailed it with everything you’ve provided, met all of their expectations, and solved problems they didn’t even know were problems. This could happen, but most likely there will be positive comments made by the Ghost and negatives and concerns made by the Ghost… and you will be shocked, stuck, and feel the urge to defend or deflect these statements; placing the blame on them for not saying anything. Whether you are right or wrong… the negative taste is no in your mouth and in theirs.
In cases of the Ghost, it’s important to keep in regular contact. Both you and the Ghost can decide what “regular contact” means… once per month, per quarter, etc. Ask what they’d like to get out of the experience, what’s their definition of a win, mesh it with your product’s ability, and recap the successes and struggles in person or remotely; following up with an email to keep in black and white for your records and theirs.
There will be clients that’ll frequently call, email, and text you throughout your service. Some leaders enjoy working that intimately with clients as it ensures success in the end. However, many leaders feel micro-managed, irritated, and fed-up with what I call the Looper. This client desires to be kept in the loop. Perhaps it’s their first big thing and it’s their baby, maybe they have trust issues, they’re a perfectionist, the list of “why possibilities” can go on!
The positive is they’re invested and motivated! They care about their work and trust you to help and/or take it to the next level. The negative for leaders is, it’s hard to get work done and complete other projects when the phone, texts, and emails keep coming in! So, what to do?
It’s important to keep Loopers in the loop! Once you accept the Looper as a client or notice they are a Looper, share with them how you work, set a designated type and time of contact, honor it, and keep them in the loop. This will ease your mind as you will have more time to work, a designated time to discuss the project, listen to feedback, and enjoy the relationship.
The Looper will experience more peace as they have a time set to discuss their baby, ask questions, and provide any necessary feedback. A win-win for both sides… remember, as a leader, you can become a Ghost too and that can be quite frustrating for some of your clients!
There are some people out there that know as much as you or more… and they can become your client! The Library Client has knowledge in your field, spent time in your field, and speaks your same language. Some have been successful, are successful; while others have the knowledge but are in transition and haven’t put their knowledge into real-world practice. As a leader, you may feel excited to work with The Library, or intimidated, or irritated.
The positive is they are inspired and motivated, speak your same language, and may have experiences that will allow for a deeper connection and usefulness of your service regarding its application.
The negative can be The Library refuting your ideas, using their knowledge to elevate their ego, ignoring their lack of real-world application of their knowledge, and the list can go on. So, what to do?
As a leader, you must be clear regarding what they’d like to get out of the experience of working with you, how you can partner to make that happen, be willing to listen to feedback and apply it to your service, and set boundaries when necessary if you feel obligated to protect your business, your mental state, or you and your people from being bullied.
The Pole Vaulter
It’s human nature to test, some clients will test your service boundaries by sticking their toe across your line… while others will pole vault over your line! The Pole Vaulter is the client who continually asks for more service with no intent to compensate, asks for more information for other projects, reaches out off-hours with the expectation you will respond and react ASAP and no matter what.
Some Pole Vaulters don’t know they’re pole vaulting and have deemed your professional relationship and friendship… and EXTRA is what friends do for one another. Some Pole Vaulters know exactly what they’re doing and are vampires willing to suck you dry!
The positive is The Pole Vaulter wants more and sees the benefit of your talent and service! The negative is… giving is great; being taken advantage of isn’t. So, what to do?
The first thing to do is to stay calm. Remember, people only have done what you continue to allow. If they’ve been pole vaulting over your line, it’s because you let them. So, don’t be mad at them. If it’s occurred a time or two, that’s fine… you’ve shown good faith to be a giver. The conversation now becomes, “Thank You for seeing the value in what I do. I’d enjoy to do _____________ (whatever it is they’re asking for). I’ve done ______ (list the extra you’ve done), how do you expect me to do this for the price we originally agreed to?”.
The key here is to stay calm, ask with a willing and inquisitive tone, and then be quiet… allowing them to answer. You’ll learn a lot from whatever answer they give you!
You can also choose to be more direct, “I’d love to do more. I’ve done ___________ as extra and enjoyed it. I have an idea how we can do more and a price I think makes sense. Share your idea and provide and price range; being mindful not to lock yourself into a specific number. Your lowest number in the price range should be the number you really want. If price continues to be an issue; perhaps they can offer something else in addition to money to create a win-win. In either choice, you’ve stated what you’ve done, the extra you’ve done, you’re happy to do it, and open to discuss how to get it done in a way that protects you, your relationship, and takes the pole out of their hand!
The Ideal Client
Before becoming a speaker, author, and trainer; I was a mental health therapist for 19 years. In the therapy realm, the term for the ideal client in Y.A.V.I.S. (young, attractive, verbal, intelligent, and social). This is a client that’s pleasant and easy to talk with and work with. The young or attractive part was never important to me, but I understand the point! As a leader, your ideal client will be one that’s easy for you to work with… they have just the right amount of willingness, involvement, speaks your language, trusts you, the phone conversations and emails are just the right length, they listen and apply your product and service, they refer you to others, you refer them, it’s perfect!
The positive is simple… you’re a perfect fit! The negative to be aware of is, you could be lulled into providing lack-luster service due to taking their idealness for granted. Are you impacting them with the same energy, ideas, and service you did in the beginning or with the same vigor of trying to sign a new deal?
When you achieve your dream, my first rule of success is to take care of who and what has been taking care of you. Be sure to take care of your Ideal Clients; allowing them to stay your ideal client and you their ideal service!
Now that you know the 5 Types of clients, which one are you? Be mindful of your positives, negatives, and what to do! Which one resonates least with you? This is the client you may struggle with the most and need to be prepared for! Be sure to take care of your clients… and they will take care of you! Enjoy your evolution!
“Remember, people only have done what you continue to allow. If they’ve been pole vaulting over your line, it’s because you let them”
– Andre Young