DON’T LET CLIENTS WALK ALL OVER YOU
When I first started out in my early 20’s I wasn’t as particular as I am today about the clients I brought on board.
I was primarily focused on establishing myself and building a reputation.
I busted a gut trying to keep my new clients happy and my enemies at bay by over-delivering on #hashtag #everydamnthing.
Nothing was too much trouble for this multi-tasked go-getter.
Over time the care and attention I lavished on my clients took its toll.
I was exhausted, highly stressed, and more emotional than usual (and that’s saying something).
I became aware that I had attracted into my business people who were only too willing to take advantage of me.
Quit being so eager to please!
You know that a disproportionate number of people-pleasers happen to be women?
Believe me, in business you cannot afford to be a people-pleaser.
You will run yourself ragged for little to no reward.
I learned early on that customers can be incredulously over demanding.
Some assume you’ll do anything to win their business and, if you let them, they’ll walk all over you and wipe their feet.
Back in those days it was a man’s world.
Some of my clients were old enough to be my father, even my grandfather.
Don’t get me wrong, I could hold my own, but a few really tried to impose on me.
Like the prospect who begged me to negotiate payment of an invoice with a delinquent customer so he could afford to retain my services.
Like the day I was asked to pick up urgently needed materials enroute to an appointment at my client’s office when the depot was located way across the other side of town through peak hour traffic.
Like the time a client handed me a wad of banknotes and said “Lunch is on me today”, followed by “Could you pick up a decent birthday gift for the wife?”
“You’re a woman.”
“You’d have a better idea than me as to what she’d like.”
I asked myself What the hell is going on here?
I was being treated more like an office assistant or a dutiful daughter than a sales and marketing consultant.
I’m a professional business woman, not a go-to girl!
I began to decline excessive requests on my precious time in the nicest way possible.
My valued clients had no problem with this because they respected me and I was getting them the results they wanted.
The cheapskates and the time-wasters bailed because there was always some other mug out there willing to do more for less.
Maintain professional boundaries
I was determined never again to go out of my way to do something beyond my contractual obligations to be nice just for the sake of being nice.
From then on when prospecting for new clients, if a potential customer seemed a bit suss, showed any sign of being a user, I’d pull the pin.
It just wasn’t worth the risk.
My advice is to set boundaries from the get-go and never ever take on more than you should in the hope it will cement the relationship you have with your client.
Because 9 times out of 10 it won’t.
Being too obliging is sure to get you into trouble.
It will cost you time.
It will cost you money.
It will take you away from the clients who treat you the way you deserve, the ones who are worthy of your care and attention.
The last thing you want to do is to make your life more difficult than it needs to be by filling your business with over-demanding customers who make your skin crawl and hurt your bottom line.