How to work with a demanding client

Handling demanding clients, demanding requests, and working with clients is an art not a science.  Many seasoned professionals have tips and tricks when it comes to working with very demanding clients. For those of you reading this post please add some comments below with your tips and tricks.

The Problem

Several years ago I worked with the client that was very demanding client during the pre-sales work to scope out a project that would ultimately end up in a statement of work or a sow for them to sign. Let’s call the client Bob. During several meetings Bob wanted more and more information before they would sign off on the statement of work. He first asked for more clarification on our drafted sow and then wanted a RACI (a matrix that shows who is responsible, accountable, consulted and informed to help clarify roles and responsibilities) model and also a project timeline with the gannt chart. These were simple requests, but after we sent him drafts for review, he wanted more information. After several more hours of work to satisfy his request he continued to want more. During the pre-sales work we must remember that this time is not billable and we are utilizing resources that must be billable for our company.

The Solution

During this pre-sales engagement, I was working with an excellent account executive who realized that if we continue to ask Bob for feedback on the draft we created, he would continue to demand more. He told me to package up what we had completed and submit the statement of work. He had excellent advice and after thinking about what had transpired, I realized that the behavior we exude during the pre-sales engagement will dictate the behavior from the client during the engagement itself.  This is a form of operant conditioning which was re-enforcing the behavior.

For example, if I would continue to let Bob ask for more and more information prior to signing the statement of work, what’s to stop him from asking for more information during the actual engagement. That could lead to increased scope, an over budget, and a very unhappy Client. We must remember that this relationship is a give-and-take, and our desire to keep our clients happy has a limit. Ultimately, what was happened was Bob’s desire for a successful project. That is the same desire that we had.

Have you worked with her demanding client that wanted more and more information? Please tell me your story below.


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