When your company is regularly meeting up with new clients, there’s always the chance of coming across a few bad eggs. Those could include clients who drain more of your energy than they are worth, are constantly criticising you or don’t pay in good time. Problem clients can arise in any sector and for any company. However, here are 3 good ways to react to them in a fruitful manner.

Keep expectations clear

Once you’ve struck a relationship with a new client, it’s good practice to not only ask them to outline what they want and by when, but also explain your company’s expectations and goals. You should then make sure that this mutual understanding remains right throughout the relationship.

“When you have mutual expectations on the table, just like a marriage, you will have a much clearer path to a happier relationship,” Allan Boress, CPA, who owns the Orlando-based Allan Boress & Associates, advises in an article by the Journal of Accountancy.

Jody Grunden, CPA, who is involved in managing the Indiana-located Summit CPA Group, insists that your company’s expectations should match with the clients’, while the expectations on your side should be reiterated when you first meet with other clients later.

Immediately engage when a problem arises

“If you’ve been made aware of a problem or sense a difficult conversation at some point in the not-too-distant future with one of your clients, take charge,” Grunden urges. In doing this, you should directly tackle the issue rather than simply put your head in the sand.

Selecting the most suitable communication method can also help to prevent tensions simmering once you do start talking with the client. Grunden suggests avoiding sending an email message, in which “the tone and feeling can be misread”; instead, make a phone call or arrange a live meeting or video chat.

Use the right words

If you’re regularly having awkward exchanges with a client but can’t discern where you are putting your foot in it, maybe the issue isn’t what you are saying but instead the way you are saying it.

Mike Michalowicz, the author of the acclaimed business help book Profit First, has recalled one of his client’s experiences with a difficult customer, as reported by American Express. Michalowicz revealed: “I sat in on one of their meetings, and I could tell right away that it was my client’s words that were creating the tension, and my client wasn’t even aware of it.”

For example, while the client would use terms like “hash out the details”, the customer often used less confrontational phrasing such as “bring clarity”. Michalowicz advised his client to mirror the customer’s terms. This worked; the conflict vanished, and the client and customer made progress.

You could help prevent your relationship with a client deteriorating, and so ultimately keep their business, by taking up training in negotiating skills. Here at Frosch Learning, we offer an in-house course that can help your business to pick up and hone a range of skills in handling difficult clients.