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“It’s a yes!”
Remember how these words excite you after each presentation? It’s as if the entire universe is applauding you for doing a spectacular task of persuading your client to do business with you. It’s your prize after all the countless revisions and sleepless nights. And since then, you’ve given everything you could just to keep your (professional) relationship in good shape. But suddenly, with no warning, you just noticed that everything is falling apart – the business, the communication, the process, the concepts. It’s as if nothing is going right.
So what do you do next? Of course, you’ll try to make things work. As much as you can, you will do a series of analysis to identify the root cause of the problem. But what if nothing works anymore? What if after endless resolutions, you’ll always end up in a disagreement – up to the point that it’s already affecting other aspects of your business? Would you be willing to ditch all the efforts you made just so you can breathe a little, or will you continue to look for solutions that will be beneficial for both sides?
Or is it time to let go?
Letting go of your client is one of the hardest things to do; but sometimes, it’s important. Continue reading below to know the signs when it’s time to let your client go.
If your differences are too obvious
After working a couple of projects together, your relationship with your client is becoming more familiar. Surely, you’ll notice a lot of similarities and things in common. These things can help you surpass any challenges and it can convert your concepts to successful campaigns.
But, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. There will be times when some of your insights won’t match. There will be instances where the client will not accept any of the strategies you present. It’s not that you’re not good; it’s just that… it’s not what they want. If this clashing of differences happen too often, then it’s time to consider letting them go.
If there’s a lack of trust and confidence
Of course, trust is built as you work together. It may not be naturally planted in each relationship, but trust can be developed based on how well you value your words to each other. You have to make sure that you will deliver as promised. But, if after all the efforts of staying true to every commitment and the client is still second-guessing you, then it’s time to bid farewell. You cannot work with someone who doesn’t trust that you can do a good job, because they will always expect that you’re going to do something wrong.
If you’re not getting anything in return
Sometimes, it all boils down to proper compensation. It’s a no-brainer: no business is running a charity and everyone needs to pay their dues. One or two setbacks or delayed payments may be okay, but if it becomes a routine (and you’re basically working for free) then it’s not fair anymore. You can consider renegotiating your contract, or maybe it’s just time to end it.
If your compromise needs compromising
It’s expected that you will compromise with your client. Meaning, your decisions should always be in favor of everyone. Also, it’s normal that the client will ask for a couple of favors and will negotiate on different things – fees, deadlines, concepts, etc. that’s okay; but, if it becomes habitual to the point that it’s compromising your business and your team, then you should just call it all off. If haggling has become their hobby, it’s not good for business anymore.
If they demand too much of your time
Once the contract is signed, you’re committing to a long-term relationship with your client. Which means, they are entitled to your utmost dedication. They should get updates on the progress your campaigns or business, and they should also be informed of everything that is happening with their brand – even when they are not asking for it. Closing a deal requires extra initiative.
But, there are times when a single client is taking too much of your time. There are times when a client clings on you too much – asking for updates even on weekends, requesting for revisions with impossible timetables, and practically asking for almost everything. For example, imagine having 15 employees, and 10 of which is working on a single account. It’s a disaster.
How can your boat float if almost everyone is stuck on one side? You cannot be available 24/7 and you cannot always have all your hands on deck just to please one client. If their expectations are unmanageable, you can have them jump off your boat. That’s okay.
If your opinion doesn’t matter anymore
The client is the expert in their business. We know that, and we acknowledge that. You can’t tell them what is good or bad about their brand, and what should they change about it. Their business is theirs. But, the marketing, web design, social media, and business development, it’s all yours. That is why they hired you, and it means that they should listen to you about those things.
Of course, they won’t always like what you present. There may be times when your concepts are completely off or your campaigns are just too far from their core values. But, you shouldn’t just take orders from them, you should give them options to choose from.
If it comes to a point where the client doesn’t listen to you anymore and all they do is to feed you with ideas, then there’s something wrong. If the client does nothing but to make you a proofreader or a designer, and the strategy is all coming from them, then probably they don’t need you anymore.
If they don’t respect your team members
Every client should understand that your team is composed of people and not computers. They are not like vending machines that have buttons for their preferred concept and when someone pushed it, the concept will magically appear at the bottom tray. Great work doesn’t come instantly. Your client should understand that your people are assets and that they have a process.
So, if any of your clients have personal grudges on any of your team members, you have a decision to make. You should explain to your clients that each team member has a vital role in each campaign. But if the client wants to act as your boss and they can’t see the worth of your people, then you should choose your team. Your people are more important than any other long-term business.
If they want you to disregard what’s right
No amount of money is worth it to do anything illegal. Sadly, though, some clients think that they own you. They may ask you to do some things that challenge your ethics and values. Some clients may ask you to join the dark side and do black hat SEO campaigns just so they can be on top. There may also be instances where you will be forced to engage inn plagiarism or breach copyright laws just to get ahead. These may not be common scenarios but it’s possible to happen.
If these things come about, make it a point to stay strong with your virtues. If it’s against your morale, it’s time to say goodbye. If it’s wrong, don’t do it.
Just… end it!
If you answered yes to almost all the situations above, then most likely you can’t salvage your relationship with your client anymore. If the problem is still the same even after multiple times of dealing with it, you are left with only one option: Just end it!
It’s not easy. We know that. Ending a (professional) relationship is a stressful event. It will hurt both sides, whether you like it or not. But putting up with someone you’re not compatible with will only make your business more miserable. Dissatisfaction can drain both your creative energy and your pockets – both yours and theirs. It may be painful in the beginning, but letting go of a burden is totally worth it. And, someday, a new client will enter your doors and you will prosper a better relationship.