Is Your Client the Problem? Or are You the Problem?

It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer.

Knowing this, do you feel that you put forth enough effort in prioritizing your client relationships? Do you ever find yourself complaining to coworkers about a difficult client? 


Here’s the thing, your relationship with “the difficult client” may not ever be perfect. But your defense mechanisms of laughing off an irate voicemail or rolling your eyes whenever you have a call with this client does not hurt anyone except for yourself. 


You are accountable for your own attitude.


Keeping your client happy starts with you. If you constantly complain to your coworkers about difficult clients, you will (without a doubt) dread the next scheduled call. By changing your attitude and eliminating outward complaints, you will ultimately set yourself up for more meaningful communication with your clients. You may think that your client does not know that every time you talk to them, it is through gritted teeth, but there’s a good chance that they have some level of awareness as to whether or not you like them. Instead of dreading the next call, look forward to building a stronger relationship with your client.

Genuine sincerity comes through one way or another. If the client senses your extra effort to understand their operating reality has replaced reoccurring excuses (that never really worked to begin with), it will go a long way in repairing the strained relationship. Additionally, a more pleasant dialogue helps the client feel like they have a partner in this working relationship- not an adversary.


For you, the more you complain, the more sensitive you are to stimuli that further affirm your complaints. No one wants to have a conversation with someone who dislikes them. By changing your attitude and approaching calls with optimism, you will eventually drive change within your relationship. Remember, both parties are trying to do their job in the most effective way possible.


Set reasonable expectations up front.


Communication is often the most important factor in mitigating the risk of frustration between two parties. More often than not, a heads up that a task will take longer than expected to complete is all that you need to prevent friction in a working relationship. Whether you’re a salesperson or an account manager, it’s best to underpromise and over-deliver.


Full transparency is the best practice, especially when dealing with a difficult client. Know what you are accountable for and what you cannot control, give yourself the maximum time you could possibly need for a given task, and communicate these things with your clients. Worst case scenario, you take the maximum time, and your client’s base-level expectations are met. Best case scenario, you get your tasks done early, deliver it to the client early, and your client is pleasantly surprised. Either way, these tough conversations are worth having.


For your client, this new transparency helps them manage their expectations and build trust with you. For you, it helps you relax, knowing that you and your client are on the same page. 


You’re going to have many times where your clients are upset with you, with your company, or just in a bad mood. Knowing how to mediate the situation is an important skill to have in sales. 
But the ultimate preventative measure? Communication.

Kate Jacoutot is the Marketing Consultant for Spire Workforce Solutions. To learn more about Kate, visit her website.

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Kate Jacoutot

Spire Workforce Solutions, 5575 Peachtree Dunwoody Road Northeast, Building C, Suite 240, Sandy Springs, GA, 30342, United States