Dealing with Difficult Clients


Hi, everybody. I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question.

“I have an excellent agent who is worn out and feels he no longer has the energy, he’ll be 70 in September, for the nonsense that comes from dealing with clients. I reminded him that he does have the energy, he is just no longer willing to spend it on annoying clients. How does a person protect their energy and avoid the energy suck that comes with PITIA clients?”

They say they no longer have the energy, they’ll be 70 in September for the nonsense that comes with dealing with clients. I think you framed it well. “I reminded him that he does have the energy, he’s just no longer willing to spend it on annoying clients.” That’s right.

Now, I will tell you that clients are becoming more and more difficult. Some of them are difficult because they’re difficult people. Some of them are difficult because they’re going through difficult times. Some of them are difficult because they’re just idiots. Some of them are difficult because they don’t know how else to be, but not everybody’s difficult. I love what you said to this person, you said he does have the energy he’s no longer willing to spend it on annoying clients.

I love that. I don’t know if I could have said it any better myself. I don’t think I could. I would just encourage this 70-year-old to outline the ideal customer and say, “I’m going to work. I’m only going to work with these customers.” We did this years ago, it was phenomenal. Now, I will tell you occasionally the annoying client slips through the cracks or the difficult client slips through the cracks. We just got rid of one recently by the grace of God, but having a good, clear understanding, we interviewed a client a few months back and I knew, in the first seven minutes, that there was zero chance I was working with this client. They had a ton of money. They were willing to spend a ton of money with our firm, there was no way we were going to take their money.

It was tempting because she had a problem that I knew I could help with and it was a significant problem. She was in a crisis, not a crisis that required a media intervention, and we walked away from the deal. I walked away from a deal years ago about right before COVID, walked away from a deal. Sometimes you got to walk away.

I like your distinction that he doesn’t have time for annoying clients, just make sure that he really isn’t over the whole industry. Encourage him to, what I call, build a template. We build a template for the ideal client. Very few fit in the ideal bucket because it has to do with, can they afford it? Are they a full-fee payer? Do they have the challenges and issues that I can help with? Are they coachable?

There are about eight to ten things, criteria, that I have for the ideal client. We take them at the nine level. If they have eight or nine of them, we will take them. I’ll tell you what, they drop to seven, nope. I mean, no. Here’s why, because if they drop to seven, they’ll drop to five, into four, into three. A ten drop into a seven, not so bad because it happens, but you got to be very careful about that.

Hope that was helpful.

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