I have been in the industry for many years and have been around the proverbial eventing block a few times. I have dealt with a variety of clients – from the nightmare through to the too-good-to-be-true client. Too simplify your life, here are the five types of clients that you will come across during your career:
The mixed signal
Look, let’s be honest, dealing with a client that throws out mixed signals is like being exposed to Morse code for the first time. A lot of signals are coming your way, some long and some short. And just when you think you have the whole thing deciphered, the next set of signals come hammering through. The good news is that if you have successfully deciphered this client, your portfolio of work experience moves to the next level and the job of air traffic controller is not far out of your reach.
The NIA (need immediate attention) client is all-consuming and can be identified by their use of words such as critical, dire, imperative, pressing, intense, desperate, disaster and urgent. All their e-mails are ‘highest priority’ and are typed in CAPS. They work on weekends and late into the night and think that everyone else does too. Additionally, the NIA client believes they are your only client and that their job should therefore be your highest priority at all times. On the positive, this client usually approves your work and quotes relatively quickly as in their world there is never any room for stalling. Should you win with this client, they are definitely loyal and often think the world of you. Just a word of advice through, the NIA client should only be secured if you have no life other than your work and if you do not consider dating, marriage, kids, socialising, girls nights’ out – ok pretty much anything other than work – important at this stage.
This client can also be referred to as a wheeler-dealer. They believe that the quote you first present is just a starting point for negotiations. The best way to move in on this client with budget is to let them know that you take no nonsense from suppliers and that, after many phone calls, e-mails and meetings, you scored them the absolute best deal (basically just coming in high and then lowering your price to what you would originally have charged). Even though you can often feel like this type of client is taking advantage of you and bullying pretty much everyone in the supply chain, they are often great for getting repeat- and referral work as they have a stake in many deals and are well-connected.
This client is way cooler than you – and the reason you and everyone else knows this is because they often share their “I’m cooler than you” status on Facebook and Twitter. They promise to introduce you to everyone in their business and social network. They can often be identified by the line: “Stick with me, I’ll make you famous!” We’re talking big egos here, so the best way to deal with this type of client is to stroke that ego. Work hard, keep them happy and send gifts and birthday cards. It’s an ego you’re dealing with, so kiss that butt, but keep it professional! A word of advice though, don’t rely on all the promises – keep working on your own network.
This is the ultimate dream client. The groupie client is an enthusiastic supporter and follower of your work, your timeline on Facebook and your Twitter posts. This client believes you are the alpha and omega and they are very good for your self-esteem. They probably only come across once in a lifetime, so treasure them, nurture them and give them your best. However, great as it is to deal with this type of client, you have to continuously caution against coasting and delivering sub-standard work. It may take a lot to disappoint this client, but don’t rest on your laurels because in a flash someone else may come along and impress them even more.
No matter the type of client, always keep in mind that it’s the experience that clients receive that they will share with others. This is the best marketing you can get for your business.