One Size Does Not Fit All… The Different Types of Clients You’ll Meet and How to Deal With Them


To each their own. To the same beat as Mitch Albom’s The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – here are the 3 clients you’ll meet in your career.

Every client comes with a different personality. Taking the time to recognize the type of client that you’re dealing with can put you ahead of the competition and make your life easier. Creating a strategic plan while keeping in mind who you’re dealing with will eliminate problems down the line. Listed below are a few of the most common client personalities. We’ll go through how to spot them, the challenges they can bring, and some helpful tips on how to manage.

1. The Helicopter Client

How to recognize them —

• Non-stop Communication: They send ‘just checking in’ emails, or maybe frequently call to see how things are going. They can sometimes ignore the time of day and it seems like they don’t realize that you have other clients.

• Detail Craze: They’re overly involved in every detail which can make accomplishing tasks for them pretty difficult.

• Constant Hovering: They seem to be floating above you at all times expressing doubt about your work which can lead to doubting yourself.

The Challenge —

Responding to a client at all times is a hard task. It’s easy to get lost spending 1-3 hours updating project statuses, sending update emails, generating status reports, or having update meetings while your workload piles up.

The Solution — 

To help this type of client, make sure they have some sort of visibility of the project status so they can be assured they know what’s going on. Make a plan by openly discussing with them how often updates are needed. Make sure you are coming to them rather than having them chase you up.

2. Hands Off Client

How to recognize them —

• You’re in Charge: Opposite of the Helicopter Client, the Hands Off Client wants you to run the show and allows you freedom in doing so.

• High-Level Communication: They expect high-level communication from you on what’s going on regarding the project.

The Challenge —

It’s a challenge keeping this client informed without overwhelming them and when projects are delayed the client can be frustrated because they don’t fully understand the scope of all that you’re working on. Their questions tend to cue fire drills (because they are rare), and finally, communication with this client can be few and far between. This complicates things when you are looking to get approval and move forward on projects.

The Solution —

• Use a project map or an overview. This way you can get feedback at early stages and they can be fully aware of where the project is headed and in what timespan. Keep in mind this client wants to follow your lead, so set the expectations from the beginning.

3. The Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen Client

How to recognize them — 

• Multiple People: This client has a team and their differing opinions make it hard to come to a decision.

• Delays: Conflicting priorities and feedback between the team causes project delays.

The Challenge —

Dealing with multiple opinions makes it very hard to get concrete direction on where the project should head. It’s hard to know who’s opinion is most valuable and conflict can throw the project timeline backward.

The Solution —

Once you realize you’re dealing with multiple people, clearly define the approvals process and outline the repercussions that come with not approving on schedule. Detail the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved so that it’s clear who’s in charge of what.

Dealing with difficult clients is made much easier when you cater to the type of client they are. Always look for the best strategy and match it to the client’s needs. Personalization goes a long way in business.

See Also:

8 No-Fail Ways to Avoid Scope Creep

Business Minded: Organizational Strategic Planning in 8 Key Steps

How to Develop a Winning Business Strategy: Knowing What Not To Do

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