When it comes to being an entrepreneur, you can expect to run across a wide array of customers. It takes a lot to knowing them, identifying them, understanding them, and then working with them. During my time as an entrepreneur, I have run across 5 main types of clients which have distinct personalities and approaches.

Champion

These are the ones who have skin in the game they have had their ups and downs in business and clearly can identify their needs vs. wants; they also pay well, are easy to deal with, and will often send random gifts of appreciation. They are usually mentally free and understand their position in the marketplace and have made an impact in their industry as an expert and trendsetter.

Tips for working with them

  • Keep open communication and stay in contact!
  • Results are all they want.  Keep with the facts.  You don’t need to convince them of the value you bring, either they need what you have or they don’t.
  • They are very clear on what their next level is so when approaching a champion makes sure you understand their business model and their motivation. Champions want to stay champions so if you can assist them in marking their territory you will be retained for a large fee, as long as you produce.

Heavy Weight

These are the type of clients who may have a downfall somewhere or the fear of a downfall happening. They need to be held accountable.  These clients need specific things done in a specific set of time, or they are looking for a product that can do it for them.  This particular client is all about growth and mental stability.  Heavyweights are very busy and don’t have much time for amateurs so please show up confident and you must be able to articulate the what, why and how you plan to support them with your product or service.

Tips for working with them

  • Be very detail oriented.
  • Their time is everything so make your communication via email and phone structured and have an outline on what you want to discuss
  • If you are pushing a product make sure you explain to them the warranty, guarantee and the benefits
  • If you are pushing a service make sure you simplify the process, they don’t have time for long, out drawn processes or to dos.
  • Suggestions are key.  Give them suggestions on ways that they can work smarter, shorter and faster.
  • They love random cards and gifts. Remembering their birthday or anniversary will mean getting a long term contract.

Light Weight

These clients value your relationship and are extremely excited but worried about working with you.  To be honest they also expect discounts and freebies.  They are scattered in doing to many things and still trying to find their signature style.  You must be clear with them on the position you will play when it comes to supporting them.  They can easily try to make you do things that are not in the contract and may tend to abuse your time if you allow it.

Tips on working with them

  • Offer a discount that is comfortable with you, this way you are not feeling resentful.
  • Make sure they understand the amount of work that you are doing.
  • Be clear on how much time you are devoting to them and don’t go beyond the time limit.  This will help them appreciate your time.
  • Ask for payment from the beginning, this will avoid being placed in an awkward position.
  • They are easy to befriend you so make sure you seperate personal conversations with professional conversation. Monitor the flow of the conversation and keep the business conversation about business and personal conversations about personal stuff. This will help to remind them that you are still a professional.

Feather Weight

These are your business owners who are very attentive and careful.  They take everything seriously and have dealt with some people who may have misled them.  They must be dealt with very carefully and require a lot of hand holding and explaining.

Tips on working with them

  • In this situation, you must be professional but also personal.  You can lose them if you are too business like and you can lose them if you are too friendly.  Find a medium.
  • Don’t tell them what to do, make suggestions.  They are mentally and emotionally sensitive so they can smell a phony from a mile away.
  • Keep reaching out to them, they may not buy what you have to offer on the first go round, so you need to continue to market to them over and over and over again, but it will be worth it once they sign on.
  • Deal with these clients like you would a champion.  They want to feel special.
  • Present yourself as the trusted advisor and continue to show off your business “know how”.  They will often ask for advice, ask you to do stuff and you can invoice them for it, as long as you let them know that anything outside the scope of work agreement will be billed.

Golden Gloves

These clients in my experience and observation will try to avoid paying.  They may blame you for things not working out in their favor, they may call you every day for you to explain yourself or why this is working or not working, these clients want you to do everything for them for a ridiculously low price. These clients are in basic training and will come out fighting if they sense you are not people pleasing them.  If you are not in the friendship business then keep I mind you are not in this to make friends you are in this to make a difference and to make money. Don’t get stressed out by irate, non-paying clients who do not want to recognize your value.

How to deal with them

  • Be crystal clear on whether you can support them or not.  Make sure you ask them what their expectations are.  This will help you identify whether this is a client that wants the moon and the stars.
  • Invoice their calls. This will likely limit the amount conversations with no substance and they will spend more time focusing on their business.
  • These clients expect you to answer your phone every time they call so make sure you are clear on your client business hours and advise them to make an appt with you.  Try using http://www.tungle.me for online scheduling.
  • Give them a contract and a plan of action.
  • If you really want them to pay, present yourself in a professional “Bill Gates” manner.  You must walk like you mean business, talk like you mean business and send professional business email correspondence.

Please share any client horror/success stories and tips on how to deal with them? We love comments so please share!

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7 Comments on 5 Types Of Clients And How To Deal With Them

  1. Jewel Williams
    June 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm (7 years ago)

    The client that really stood out most was the Heavy Weight. I just don’t know, but maybe they seem to have a great deal of vigor and drive. I truly appreciate how you have outlined the five types of clients. It is very clear and concise. A must keep kind of blog!

    Reply
  2. Kadena Tate
    June 24, 2011 at 4:45 am (7 years ago)

    Lucinda, to be respectful and not write a monologue, I posted the long version of my comment on my own blog! You’ve hit a nerve! LOL The article is “Caving in for Cash http://bit.ly/jriue2

    Since you asked for a tip, allow me to share that I’ve learned that before working with any client, an entrepreneur needs to gain clarity about the compensation they wish to receive for the service rendered. If you don’t expect to attract more of what you don’t want and less of what you do 🙂

    Reply
    • Lucinda Cross
      June 24, 2011 at 10:18 am (7 years ago)

      Thanks for your wisdom, Caving in for Cash is definitely part 2 to this post.

      Reply
  3. simone hardy
    July 7, 2011 at 8:13 am (7 years ago)

    Awesome description of the 5 types of clients and how best to approach them. Thank you for sharing this great info. I’m a lightweight with some heavyweight in me too! :).

    Reply

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