So you’ve got a new client, or you’ve been working with them for a while, but things aren’t going so well. You get the feeling they don't like you.
Don't worry, you can build a long-lasting relationship with someone who started out hating you.
You have to be respected, not liked
If there's one thing I can guarantee, you will work with a client who doesn't like you (and often the feeling is mutual). It can make working with them unbearable, so ignoring the situation is not an option. Unfortunately most people do. But things will not get better on their own.
Before we get into how, I want to remind you is that it's business, it’s not personal.
For the longest time I wanted my clients to like me. In fact I went out of my way to make that happen. And ended up being a doormat in the process.
I realised that clients don’t have to like me (or me them) in order for us to do good work together. In fact sometimes, it’s better. As Account Managers sometimes we have to tell a client what’s good for them, not what they want to hear. And tough love can be difficult to deliver to a client who’s also a friend.
What clients do have to do though, is treat me with respect.
How to turn around an unfriendly client
- Listen more, talk less. People love to talk about themselves. To keep the focus on your client, answer a question with another question. Even if it's more of a monologue than a conversation, what does it matter? Your goal is to get to know them better. It will help you figure out their style, personality, challenges, priorities, and more. Keep track of everything, even small things like the names of their kids and what they like to do. Having that information will help you build rapport.
- Meet more often in person. It might seem strange to meet a client who doesn't like you instead of avoiding them. But you'll be able to communicate much better, pick up on hidden messages, and get along better if you do. If you can't meet in person, you can use video conference calls instead. Even if they don't want to, share your video camera.
- Do things by the book. Show clients that you are an expert and a professional they can trust. Don't cut corners . Send out meeting agendas, take notes, stick to your strategic account planning process. Keep them informed on what you're doing and what the results will be. Clarity is necessary. It will help you avoid misunderstandings and keep your attention on the work and not on the person. Give every client your best (even if at times you feel like they don't deserve it).
- Accept criticism. When a client doesn't like you, criticism is rarely in short supply. Accept it constructively - even if it feels like an attack. Take a moment to reflect. Control your reaction and instead consider if there's something you can learn? Did you make a mistake? Can you take steps to improve? How can you track your progress? What can you do differently?
- Ask what they think. It's your client's perception that matters. Their ideas and opinions might be different to yours. So find out what they are. Keep an open mind and think about ways you can work with your client to reflect their preferences.
- Set expectations. When things get off to a bad start, friction is inevitable. Most of the time, it's because of the gap between what your client wants and what they get. You might not mention known problems, bugs, or processes that are normal for you but are new to your clients. Customers are more likely to deal with problems if they know what to expect from the start. If you tell your customers what to expect, they will be more likely to stay calm when things don't go as planned.
If you've tried your best to build a professional working relationship with someone but haven't been able to, it might be time to move on.
Talk to your boss about giving the client to someone else. It's good for both of you. And you have nothing to feel bad about if you did everything you could to change things.
Worth a click
+ B2B Book Club Selection. Every month I publish a list of handpicked books to help you with your professional development. This month's titles will help you grow your authority at work, improve your relationships and teach you how to accept feedback (even when you're not in the mood to hear it.
+ How to Get Out of a Reading Slump. Speaking of books, if you struggle to get through a chapter before your mind wanders (guilty as charged) - this article has 14 practical ways to get back into the habit of reading. My favourite is set goals. I read 15 minutes a day during my lunch break. And it's amazing how quickly that little routine has helped me get through some books long on my reading list.
+ Fountain Podcast App. I discovered Fountain last week. It's the only podcast app that rewards both listeners and podcasters for their time and attention. If you're into podcasts, web 3.0 or crypto - this is a fun way to listen. The app doesn't skimp on featured. I love that you can create clips from your favourite episodes and make audio notes.
+ Sales Process Quiz. Dooly have a fun, and interesting quiz to help you figure out just how effective your sales process is. It only takes 2 minutes and it'll show you where potential gaps are.
+ Trailblazer Profile. Knowing how to use a CRM is an essential competency for sales, key account management, customer success and many more. Salesforce have created the Trailblazer profile to showcase your proven hands-on skills, credentials, and continued learning with Salesforce. A great way to showcase to current and future employers your experience with Salesforce.
Quote of the week
"I will go anywhere as long as it’s forward" ― David Livingston
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