Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Hate My Client

Verdi burst into Tyler Gitou’s office and blurted, “That man is going to drive me crazy!”

Tyler was taken aback for a moment. “Verdi, you seem quite upset. What’s the problem?”

“The problem is Chuck Verstehen. He just says these things to me because he knows he’ll tick me off. I can’t stand him.”

“What did he say that was so terrible?” Tyler asked.

“He said I have to reduce the price by five percent.” Verdi sat down and tried to catch his breath. “Then he asked to see the staffing plan I have for the project. I swear he wants to manage everything.”

“Is that it?” Tyler asked.

“No, that’s just the beginning. I have been working with this guy for three years and it has been hell. I hate my client.”

Tyler was shocked. “Your client?” he asked. “This is how you feel about your client?”

“Don’t tell me you’ve never had a difficult client before,” Verdi said.

“I’ve started out with many difficult clients Verdi. And I am proud to say that over time I have turned each one into a collaborative client.”

“How?” Verdi’s frustration was obvious. “What is the secret to working with a difficult client?”

“For a Deal Whisperer there is no secret. It is all about managing your behavior and emotion.”

“My behavior?” Verdi said. “But this guy is a jerk.”

“Then why do you do business with him?”

“Because he buys a lot of services from us,” Verdi said.

“So you have a client who spends a lot of money with you, is demanding in what he wants and you call him a jerk? Verdi, you need to leave this account.”

“Leave? I can’t leave. Managing this client is my job.”

“Well, you’re not doing a very good job of it. Let’s focus on what you can change. Start with an easy question. When you go to see a new client, how do you feel?”

Verdi brightened. “Excited. It’s an opportunity to build a relationship and help another business solve their problems and improve their performance.”

“Do you treat a new client differently than you treat Mr. Verstehen?” Tyler asked.

“Oh sure. His company has been a client for five years.”

“What would happen if your competitor got some work with Mr. Verstehen so that he became their new client. Do you think Mr. Verstehen would feel like he is treated better by your competitor than he is treated by you?”

Verdi thought for a moment. “I never thought of that before.”

“Remember, Verdi, if you don’t treat every client like a new client, they’ll soon be an old client. Now get out your pad and let’s develop a strategy for you to turn your emotions and behavior around, which will turn your entire relationship around. Step one: get out of your red car.”

Verdi stopped writing. “My what?”

“Your red car. Get out of your red car and get into your green car,” Tyler said.

“I don’t understand.”

“Then why don’t you stop talking and start listening so I can explain!”

SEE: "I Hate My Client Part 2."