• Jeremy Green
  • Reuven Lerner
  • Erick Dietrich

In this episode of the Freelancer’s Show, Jeremy, Erick, and Reuven discuss the topic, “When Your Clients are Wrong.” The panel gives practical advice on how to work with different client/work situations that may not be ideal. They suggest to think about the situation logically, have a conversation with the client, and try to work out a win-win situation for both sides.

In particular, we dive pretty deep on:

1:16 – Let’s introduce this topic a little bit more softer than I did!

1:34 – After giving your clients some new / different options and they still aren’t satisfied.

1:58 – This is so difficult and delicate b/c it’s easier when you don’t need the money. If you only have 1 client or a handful of clients they are they only ones you can rely on for your income then it’s a lot harder and worse. Many times if a client asks you to do the wrong thing sometimes you can leave, but sometimes that’s not always realistic. If you can walk away if it really is horrible then maybe you can.

You have a solution to a problem (you know how to solve this problem!) and your client says, “no.” What then?

3:59 – For me, the arrow in my quiver would be I believe in this so much let’s try it for free and run an experiment, if that’s a cost concern.

4:45 – You are willing to invest in it?

4:53 – Nothing is coming to my mind right now. For my blogging business…

If it were years worth of blog posts than I wouldn’t do that for free.

5:47 – When I was doing consulting projects I would recommend: we should store things this way, or…Sometimes my clients will say “NO” this is not the way I want to do it. I was working with a company in Tel Aviv, and I wanted to have a bunch of different columns in the database. The CEO was like you are using all of those columns?! Right, that would work if you were living in the 1960’s! I presented my case to him, but it was the beginning of the end. He still saw himself as the CEO but also a brilliant software guy he didn’t want me second-guessing his brilliant decisions.

7:51 – It’s worth throwing it out there – you always do have the option of going on with idea. Pick your battles – live to live another day.

9:05 – If you come in and say: “I am right and this is why…” they will not go for it. It’s not good to win that argument. Kind of tease it out – let’s look at time and cost. Maybe overtime the customer will see what you are trying to do.

10:02 – It’s a good opportunity to say: Let’s take a step back and see the goals of this project. Maybe we have a mismatch of what our goals are or the current state of the project. I thought you were concerned about X but I see now that you are actually concerned with Y. I see now – maybe I misunderstood your situation. That could help the client refocus.

11:29 – They brought on this team of 40 people in Rails and then realized nobody knew Rails. I had a blast, but the way it worked if something wanted to change something then they would do a change request to the…

Panelists go back-and-forth.

15:49 – “I hope I am wrong” mentality might be better than: “Man that is horrible, you are going to fall down on your face.”

He talks about a credit card issue and showing that this case had to be implemented with this specific client/company.

18:00 – Advertisement – Digital Ocean!

18:41 – There is a wide range of “wrongness” where clients aren’t in the best place and the level of “wrongness”.

We aren’t going to steal a logo for you. Are they asking you to do something wrong or is it a difference between 1% to 2%?

20:20 – This would be a better play vs. something illegal vs. something in-between. If a client is trying to roping you into plagiarism don’t do it.

22:08 – You can say I am turning down this work b/c we won’t be a good fit or I really can’t fulfill what you want me to do and that work can come back to you from another avenue.

22:50 – If you just can’t find anything else, but I know there are people that specialize in x, y, and z. They will finish the work better than me and I would recommend these people for those reasons. They respected that.

23:42 – Blood money – I wouldn’t want to help you for the specific reasons. People will respect that b/c they will see that you have their best interest at heart.

Panelists continue to go back-and-forth.

25:47 – Was the client a cheapskate? 

26:57 – Engaging with a client and see where they are. Predict future

28:05 – I have a client with a small business and their business in teetering on the edge of collapse. I have been clear with them and they tell me their budget. We just are adding duct tape to the problem just for a quick fix.

29:00 – It would be ideal that you had money but let’s figure out the next, best thing.

29:15 – Okay what do we want to do in 6 months or in a year so that way we can pay for things in installments that is less painful that way. I am trying to think – has anyone asked you to do something truly unethical?

29:48 – Yeah the logo thing was a family dispute.

29:56 – For our blogging agency I was asked to misrepresent something on a website. They asked if we could post a commercial and we were ghost writing it. Anytime that comes up I can pass. It hasn’t come up too much over the years. I cannot stress enough DON’T DO UNETHICAL THINGS.

31:16 – What can you do setup the relationship so this possibly isn’t an issue in the future?

32:00 – Panelist talks about clients and more. 

The more consultative a relationship is the more they will listen to their expertise. Getting paid for your brains and less for your hands.

32:30 – Most times clients disregard your advice b/c they just see you as a pair of hands.

33:22 – In my initial calls with training people…

34:00 – Panelist talks about his 4-day training course and how companies try to squeeze the program out in only 2-3 days instead, because their workers are “smarter than the average person.”

35:28 – I can point to this data to show that I AM an expert. The more narrow I am with my focus the more they are inclined to hear me out and trust me.

36:11 – I have been doing this for years now I know how long it will take. Other things that we can say about this?

36:32 – General piece of advice would be if the client is disagreeing then it can be a real gut check and it’s important to keep a cool head and you don’t want to fight with your client.

37:35 – Advertisement – Fresh Books!