Are You Being Too Nice? How’s That Working for Your Business?

Are you being too nice? Picture of children playing together.

“Play nice.”  How old were you when you first heard this admonition? 

Maybe before you could even talk?

So what does this childhood rule have to do with the success of your business?   You might be surprised.

Think about this.  How often are you saying ‘yes’ to a client – when you really want to say ‘no’?  When you’re already feeling taken advantage of by the client?

You’re not alone.

This is one of the things my clients most want coaching and training on.  Not that that helps you when you’re being bullied by a client.

Do you sometimes feel like the client knows they are asking too much, and they know they can get away with it?  How do they know they can do this to you with impunity?  Did it ever occur to you that you might be training them to do exactly that?

Being Too Nice.  Are You Training Your Clients to Take Advantage?

Clients (and people in general) treat us the way we teach them to treat us.  What do I mean by that?  Consider these:

  • How clear are the boundaries and guidelines you’re setting up front with clients? 
  • Do your clients know what to expect? 
  • Are you clear you don’t check email or takes calls after a certain hour?  Never on weekends?
  • Once clients pay your fee, do they think they have unlimited access to you? 
  • Do you want to give them unlimited access or are you afraid to put limits in place because that wouldn’t be ‘nice’? What if that annoys or upsets the prospect?  What if they don’t like you anymore?
  • What if they don’t extend the contract?  What if they don’t recommend you to friends and colleagues?

Isn’t this the litany that goes through your head?

It used to go through mine.  I was so concerned about what the client would think, about what they wanted, and about what they would do. 

Luckily I grew out of that behavior.  How did I do it?

Being Too Nice.  Learn What You Can Control.

Guess what?  How much of that stuff can you control?

Can you really control what they think? Can you control what they want or whether those desires are even reasonable? How effectively can you control what they do, what next step they’ll take?

What you can control is the expectations you put in place up front.

Yes, this starts as early as your discovery conversation or your initial presentation.  The sooner the better, and the clearer the better.

Put yourself in the shoes of the client.  From the first conversation all they hear is, “Yes, we can do that.”  “No problem, we do that a lot.”  Then, at some point during the consulting or coaching process, you hear from the consultant, “Yes, we can do that, but that wasn’t covered in our initial agreement.  That will be an extra $10,000.”

How happy are you going to be, as the client?  You’d be pretty steamed, right?

And you know what?  The degree of steam may not have all that much to do with the dollar amount.  The issue is that the client feels a little cheated, maybe even betrayed.  How much do you like it when you are the victim of a bait-and-switch?

As the vendor, is there really any graceful way to salvage the relationship with your client?  Even if you eat all the additional fees, you’ve likely lost them as future clients.

As with many things in life and business, it’s easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble.  Take a few minutes now to work through the five steps below.

Take Action – Make This Your Own

Review your prospect conversations with a metaphorical magnifying glass.

  1. Are there questions you’re glossing over?
  2. Are there areas you hope they don’t ask about?
  3. Are there places you are saying yes when you know in your heart (and your gut) you shouldn’t?
  4. Are your answers to a specific question deliberately vague?
  5. Are you having troublesome conversations with a client?  Is it because you weren’t clear in your early conversations?

Pick one area to tighten up your prospect conversations and set clear expectations.  You’ll have a fraction of the stress, stronger client relationships, and stronger revenue from each project or client.

You can also check out these related posts:

The Need for Approval – How Much is it Costing You?
Are Prospects Mistaking You for a Non-Profit? How to Stand Your Ground and Demonstrate Value
Is Hope Your Main Business Strategy

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