How to Handle the “Difficult” Client

At some point, most freelancers, consultants, and executives realize that there are just two types of clients:

  • Ideal clients,
  • “Less than ideal” clients

Now, whether you’ve got your ideal client pinpointed, or you are still in the process of figuring it all out, it helps to have a simple guide that you can use to find better clients while minimizing your exposure to problem clients and I’ve got just the tips shared with you below.

Tip 1:

Focus on the client who has their focus on results, not prices. Don’t be a generic provider, you know the one I’m talking about, the guy who looks and sounds like he is reading a script from an infomercial. If you want quality clients, you need to tailor yourself to be the provider those clients want.

Tip 2:

Identify your Client Archetype.

  • Irrationally Free: These clients are the bottom of the barrel. High maintenance, demanding, but, most importantly, they are focused on how they could get the same results for FREE if they weren’t using you. Avoid these customers, they are a nightmare.
  • Price Shoppers: These clients are focused on how they can get the best deal so they will probably try to haggle with you. Overall, these clients are a mixed bag and can be great if you are just starting out. That said, if you don’t consider yourself a low-cost provider, I’d avoid these clients.
  • Value Seekers: These clients are focused on how they can get good results at a fair price. They actively see the value your business provides. These customers should make up the bulk of your business because, generally, they respect both your time and theirs. They are the A-list of clients.
  • Give Me Results: These clients are focused on results. If you are the best in the field at what you do, these are your dream clients. These clients can be extremely lucrative because results trump all other concerns, but they can be very demanding. If you feel up for the challenge, go for it, but be prepared.

As you browse through the archetypes above, my general advice is that you should tailor your business and marketing approach to serve the Value Seekers.

In my experience, Value Seekers are the easiest to serve, cause the least amount of hassles, and truly value the work you do for them…hence the name.

There are only a few cases where you’d explicitly want to target the other archetypes, but that is something to discuss in a later post. If you have specific questions, you can always send them in the contact form.

Tip 3: Follow these three rules:

1. Charge what You are Worth-

More often than not, when I speak with entrepreneurs, my typical advice is that they should raise their prices.


The reason is simple:

Price sets expectation of value.

2. Never Match Prices!

When the term “Price Match,” is heard what is the first thing that comes to mind? I bet it was one of the mega ‘discount stores’ correct? Now do you want to be categorized as a ‘discount’ provider? I don’t think so.

Price matching is a sign that you don’t value your work and you (desperately) need their business. Instead of matching prices, I’d suggest offering a discount if they agree to pay a large amount in advance.

If they still ask you if you’ll match their price, explain to them that you’d have to cut corners on their project in order to meet that price and that isn’t something that you are willing to do.

It’s that classic saying, you get what you pay for.

3. Focus on the Message

Your messaging has a profound impact on how people perceive your business.

It is as simple as that. If you’ve got bad messaging — or worse, no messaging at all — then you’re going to get less than ideal clients.

Focus on getting your messaging and marketing right because doing so is half the battle to attracting the right customers into your business.