MANAGING THE CLIENT - PART 2
Published January 14, 2010
MANAGING THE CLIENT
Help! The Client Wants A Freebie!
We’ve all had that phone call. You know, the one where the client, who is probably not even a big client asks you for a favor and wants you to do a job for nothing to near nothing. And your heart sinks and you have a sudden sense of panic – “What if I say no, will I lose this client?” “How could he do this to me? He knows I’m barely keeping my head above water!" “If I do this, am I setting a precedent?” And suddenly you’re overwhelmed by a sense of losing control.
Unfortunately there are no set rules or formulas for how to handle this situation. I will tell you though, that in my experience about half of the time the client was really in a jam and needed my help, and in the long run I made a business partner for life. The other half of the time I lost a client who was on his way out because of his own business issues, or was more of a mooch than a client and I was happy to see him go. I realize that’s a harsh statement to make, but Uncle Sam doesn’t consider me to be a charitable organization and he expects his cut. Of everything. Even the mere pittance the client offered.
The truth of the matter is you don’t build a good business relationship with your client by working too cheap.
You build good business relationships with your client by giving great service at a fair price.
But what about the client that asks for the freebies? How do you handle that?
I have a personal policy that I follow on this matter. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me. If I have a client that has produced x number of dollars for me over the past year, and I am asked to help him out on a project at a cut rate…or even for no money…I ask myself two questions:
One, is this a pro-bono job that my client believes in and is committed to, and my contribution is of great benefit to the project? And by the way, whatever cut the client asks me to take, I ask them if they are taking the same cut.
And two, is this to help my client get more business? In other words, what’s in it for my client?
One of the things I’ve discovered over the years is that if my client understands that I’m willing to help him get new business, which of course may get me new business, he will have a greater appreciation for me and consider me more of a partner.
You have a most effective tool to help your client get more business: You – your voice, your experience, your connections, etc. Your client will appreciate that from you!