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Sorting Out and Dealing with Different Types of Clients

Psychological approach is also an effective strategy being used in business. Learning how to read the clients’ personality can give you advantage. This way, you will know how and in what way to approach them with your marketing strategies. You will be able to handle and build a good professional relationship with your clients.

In this era, the great battle is faced in the world wide web. Online offices for freelancers limits their capabilities to interact personally. Though it’s difficult to get to know a client online in a slightly personal level, it’s still an important step to make.

In this field of business, you will encounter different types of people. The ability to label or sort out the type of client is a very big leap to amplify communication with your clients and allows you to keep a good relationship.

Here are the type of personality traits that you are most likely to encounter in clients. It my push you to the edge, but remember, NEVER lose your cool.

1. The Passive-Agressive

This type of client may start out with a few words being passive, keeping the clear image of what they exactly want to themselves. And surprises you with a lot of detailed demands both minor and major changes, getting agressive only after you submit a project.

Identifying Characteristics

  • Uncooperative and keeps a one-sided communication.

Makes statements such as:

  • “I’m not quite sure what we’re looking for.”
  • “Just do something that would appeal to us generally.”
  • “You totally missed the point of what we wanted.”

How to Deal:

– Being extra patient is the way to go. Always expect for last-minute touch-ups and revisions, may help to defuse any aggressive behavior blow up. Keep your original layered design intact so that you can easily refine and modify it later (not that you wouldn’t, but it does happen).  It also helps to make sure a contract specifies a limited number of revisions.

2. The Family Friend

This is the type of client whom you have known for several years either through family interaction or personal, and this connection has landed you the job. The relationship will be tested and perhaps marred forever by what could very well be a nightmare of a project. This type of client may demand a “special price” and take advantage of your bond. Sometimes, they may even not take your services seriously.

Identifying Characteristics

  • These clients are easy to identify because… well, you know them.
  • Makes such statements as:
    • “Could you just throw something together for me?”
    • “I don’t want you to think that just because I know you I want you to cut me a deal.”
    • “You’re going to charge me what?! But we go way back!”

How to Deal

Dealing with such clients depend on how well you know them and how much you value your relationship with them. But always remember, that anyone who would take advantage of such a relationship is not truly a friend, so respond accordingly. A truthful approach could end up saving the relationship. But start off with a professional and not a personal, tone, and they may follow your lead. Of course, if you truly value the relationship, you may want to pass on the job altogether.

3. The Down-player

Like the family friend described above, this client will downplay your creative presentations. The difference: you don’t personally know this person. There is no explaination for their behavior. They feel they should get a “friend’s” pricing rate not because they want to be friends with you, but because they do not see your work as being worth that much… even if they couldn’t do it themselves. Not coming from a creative background or even having had exposure to the arts can mar someone’s appreciation of the work that you do. After years in our field, we make it look easy, and that is what the down-player sees.

Identifying Characteristics

  • Does not respond to questions in a timely fashion.
  • Makes such statements as:
    • “It’s not like it takes much effort on your part.”
    • “Couldn’t you just throw something together for me?”
    • “How hard can this really be?”

How to Deal

Play it with confidence. You know what your work demands and how well you do your job. The down-player will recognize this confidence. Don’t hold back or concede a point to the client when discussing your role in the project. Standing firm will establish the professional and respectful tone you deserve. If the client does not respond in kind, cut your losses and decline their project.

4. The Critic

This client is never fully satisfied with the work you do and will constantly pick on minor details here and there that they dislike and want changed. Do not be surprised if they ask you to change these same details over and over ad nauseam. It is not a sign of disrespect (as it is with the other clients), but simply the nature of the person. They may have been burned in some other project and are now unsatisfied with everything in their path, including your work.

Identifying Characteristics

  • Complains almost consistently about unrelated things.
  • Personal outlook comes with a scathing bite.
  • Makes such statements as:
    • “How hard is it to [fill in the blank with any rant]?”
    • “I’m really not sure about this element here. It just doesn’t pop!”
    • “I don’t think you are really getting it.”

How to Deal

Once again, patience is important (especially if you have some sadistic reason for taking on nit-picking clients). Try to detach yourself from the project as much as possible, so that the constant nit-pickery does not affect you personally. It is easy to feel hurt or get defensive when your work is repeatedly questioned, and you may begin to doubt your skill. But understand that this is not about you or your talent; it is simply a personality trait of the person you are dealing with. And once again, protect yourself in the contract.

5. The Penny-pincher

This client has similarities to the critic and under-player but is actually impressed with your work and skill set. The criticize you merely to undermine your confidence in an attempt to lower your pricing rate. Unlike some other client types, the penny-pincher understands creative people and their processes. But they are cheap and manipulative, and their scheme may have worked in their favor once or twice in the past. So, they continue to subtly abuse the people they hire in the hope of saving every last penny.

Identifying Characteristics

  • Compliments always come with a less-than-flattering qualifier.
  • Takes time to respond to questions, sometimes making you ask more than once.
  • Makes such statements as:
    • “I really like what you’ve done overall, but I’m unsure about one or two things.”
    • “You may not have gotten exactly what we’re looking for, but you’re close.”

How to Deal

Once again, it is all about confidence. Having a solid understanding of your field and being confident in your knowledge and abilities will keep this client’s manipulation in check. Standing your ground and even calling the client on some of their tactics could shift the balance of power over to you. Be prepared to walk away from the project if the disrespect and manipulation continues. There will be other projects and other clients.

6. The “I-Could-Do-This-Myself”-er

Where to begin… When this type of client offers a project out to you, they make clear to you that they know how to do what they’re hiring you to do but just too preoccupied to do it. They may be working at a firm or an entrepreneur; either way, you are there to pick up their excess load. If they’re at a firm, you could be in for an interesting situation; they were likely hired for their particular style and proposals, and now you will have to please two sets of people: the person who hired you and the people who hired him.

Identifying Characteristics

  • Will generally be (or look) hectic and rushed.
  • Communication from them often takes the form of short bursts of information.
  • Makes such statements as:
    • “I could easily handle this if my schedule weren’t so full.”
    • “Really? Not sure that’s the direction I would’ve gone in, but whatever.”
    • “Remember, you are filling my shoes, and they’re pretty big.”

How to Deal

The “I-Could-Do-This-Myself”-er will likely have recognized your talent and skill right away, which is why they hired you. They merely want you to know that this project (and thus you) is not above their ability. And though these reminders will grate on you periodically, they will let you run with your ideas, perhaps offering suggestions or feedback on the final design.

7. The Control Freak

This client desperately needs to micro-manage every little detail of the project, no matter their qualifications. No decision may be made without their explicit input and approval. This tiresome client forces himself into your workflow, heedless of either invitation or protest, and will demand access to you at whim. The concepts of boundaries and strict work processes are easily lost on the control freak, who constantly disrupts the flow. They may also believe you lack dedication or preparedness, further reinforcing their need to interfere.

Identifying Characteristics

  • Initial contact is long, detailed and one-sided, with little input sought from you.
  • Your input remains unsought as the project pushes forward.
  • Makes such statements as:
    • “This way we can keep in contact 24/7 in case you have any questions, or I do.”
    • “I really know best what is right for the project and what is not.”
    • “What do you mean, I’m distracting you? I am the only thing keeping this project on track!”

How to Deal

If you absolutely must take on this client, for whatever reason, resign yourself to the fact that you will not be steering at any point. You will have to detach yourself from the work because you will have no control at all. You will merely be constructing, not designing, so just let go and let it happen. You may want to exclude this project from your portfolio.

8. The Perfect Client

This client, widely dismissed as a myth, does in fact exist and understands the full scope and artistry of your work. They value your role and creative contributions and want you in the driver’s seat as soon as the project gets underway. They are timely with responses and payments… payments that they did not “negotiate” but rather accepted for what they are. They reflect on your suggestions and have confidence in your capabilities.

Identifying Characteristics

  • Is enthusiastic about the project and your involvement in it.
  • Communication shows awareness of and respect for your role.
  • Makes such statements as:
    • “Here’s the brief we prepared. The rest is pretty much up to you.”
    • “We like what we’ve seen and trust you’ll do great things for us.”

How to Deal

Don’t brag! Confusing confidence with recklessness will get you in trouble. It’s best to just enjoy the ride and hold on to them for as long as you possibly can!

*To Wrap it Up

Being able to identify the type of client you are dealing with will help you anticipate for the job ahead. It will also help you decide whether to accept the job in the first place. Your contract will emulate the power dynamics of the project, so the more you know about the client, the better able you will be to adjust the contract as necessary.

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