It can be difficult to establish relationships between clients and agencies.
There have been many client relationships that were good, bad, or both. I had to deal with power-hungry clients who wanted to take over my life.
These relationships were about power moves. I wasn’t the one who had the power or was doing the moves. I needed to have more control, the good kind of control.
Being in control doesn’t mean being arrogant or intimidating. It’s not about imposing a dictatorial rule on your client’s subordinates.
Instead, it’s all about managing a client/agency relationship that is mutually beneficial and successful. You don’t want the project to go off track. You want to keep things in check so that the project is successful, the client is happy, you are sane.
Why would you want to be in charge? To better serve the client. This is not a selfish tactic, but a client-centric approach which benefits both of you.
Here are 14 ways you can keep control of even the most difficult clients.
1. Screen the client first.
Some clients are impossible to control, so I will be open and honest. They are difficult to manage. I recommend creating a screening process to identify clients who are likely to be irritable and those who will work with you.
There are many things you can screen for. But for the purposes this article, I will only focus on three.
Is the client professional?
Is the client polite and respectful when speaking with me?
Do you see the client willing to listen to your suggestions and follow through with your requests, even during the onboarding process itself?
Any warning signs early in a client relationship could spell disaster later.
2. Describe your processes.
You are the one who sets the tone for how things will go when a client comes to see you. Although you may be flexible in these matters, it can lead to a situation where the client believes they have set the terms of the work.
You should have a process in place for the following:
Modalities of payment
Terms of Service
Any applicable terms of service
These documents, agreements, and processes are your first line of defense against clients who are out-of-control. Refer the client back to the agreement if the relationship begins to falter.
3. Ask for their budget. That is up to you.
What is the greatest problem between agencies and clients?
Don’t be caught off guard when it comes to budget, pricing, payment, and so on. You are the one who decides pricing and fees, not them.
You decide how much you charge because you are the service provider. There is always room to negotiate, but don’t let the experience descend into a bitter haggling match. This will only make things more difficult.
4. Educate them.
Clients come to you because they need something that you can or will provide for them. This immediately puts you in a position to be an authority and knowledgeable. You have the right and obligation to educate them.
How can you do it?
Respect their expertise and develop a respectable attitude.
Be confident in your knowledge and expertise, however. Respect should be reciprocated.
Use content marketing to publish authoritative articles or whitepapers.
To explain the why and how of your work, you can use phone or in-person meetings.
An agency that is knowledgeable about their business will be respected by clients. They will also be less likely to lose control.
5. Show them the deadline calendar.
Timing issues rank right next to money issues. These issues can be a problem in the client/agency relationship.
Before you start the project, create a complete calendar that includes deadlines, meetings, and deliverables. You will need to pull out your Gantt charts in order to display the activity completion schedule.