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Dog Blog 27.0 – Win Them Back, or Let Them Go?

You have probably experienced this predicament at some point in your career – when working with a client starts to become more dreadful than it is enjoyable. Nobody is seeing eye to eye, every project gets dragged on forever, and everything about working together starts to become just plain annoying! What makes it even worse is that you sense your client is feeling the same way, too. Sometimes, there is no salvaging a client relationship. Much like breaking up with a significant other, there comes a point when both parties are just feeling “blah” about each other, and you know it’s time to say goodbye. But unlike a relationship with a significant other, a breakup with a client has a lot other non-emotional factors to consider. So how do you know when it’s time to win your client back, or let them go?

When to win them back

  1. This is pretty obvious, but if this client is one of your biggest sources of income, then you clearly can’t say goodbye. Unless you have another client on the forefront that can replace them (and even then, you might want to give it a few months or so), it’s time for you to have a chat with your client. Try meeting up with them and talk about what’s going on, how you can resolve your issues, and how you can maintain an amicable relationship in the future. Sometimes it just helps to lay everything on the table. Maybe you haven’t been performing to their expectations, or maybe they haven’t been clear about what they want. Either way, just showing you’re willing to do whatever it takes to make working together a positive experience is a step in the right direction. Also, make sure this meeting involves food. Nobody says no to food!
  2. Maybe you’ve been working on the same types of projects with this client for a long time, and you’re just ready for something new. Instead of ditching the client, why not try to show them what else you can do? This is the time to get creative. Maybe you’ve been working together so long that you’ve become your client’s “go-to” for certain projects, and meanwhile they have no idea that you’ve wracked up a bunch of new capabilities in the past few years. This is a great time to showcase new services, get creative, and show them that you still care. This is another instance where a meeting containing food would be a good idea.

When to say goodbye

  1. If this client is just flat-out terrible (we won’t go into details about this, but we’re sure you know what we’re talking about) and they’re more of a nuisance than anything, just let it go. The truth is, they are probably getting a vibe that the relationship is over, too. They are probably giving you work less frequently, not returning emails/calls, and maybe they’ve even started working with another agency. (Ouch.) Regardless of who is to blame for the downward spiral of your relationship, it’s probably best to contact your client talk things over. I can’t give you specific details of what to say or how to do it, because every situation is different. My advice is, take the dignified approach and mention something along the lines of, “It’s been an honor working with you and I’ve learned so much along the way.” It may be over with your client, but in the marketing/advertising world, everyone knows each other. You do NOT want to get a bad reputation over this!
  2. When you have done everything you can to try and salvage the relationship and it’s still going nowhere, then a breakup is inevitable. The key here is that you tried and showed you’re willing to do what it takes to provide a satisfactory experience for your client. Who knows…maybe your client is thinking about leaving his/her position and just doesn’t care about the job anymore, or maybe the company is going through some difficult transitions. Sometimes, there is nothing you can do about it, and that’s ok. As long as you tried!

To sum it up, before you go and X your client out of your life, always try and talk it over first. And always involve food!