Dealing with Impossible Clients: What to Do When a Client Is Misinformed and Unwilling to Listen to Good Advice

What should you do if you encounter a client who is misinformed and unwilling to listen to good advice? Worse, what if your efforts to advise the client result in the client becoming even more stuck in his or her position and angry about even discussing what's wrong? That's what happened to Jerry, who had an online business sending out queries for clients to professionals in various industries. To do so, he obtained mailing lists from various list brokers and cleaned them up to remove bad emails in order to use the lists with clients. Otherwise, the bounce rate would be too high, and he could soon find his service banned from sending out queries.

Since he was hoping to expand his service by adding lists in other industries, one of his prospective clients Bart proposed buying the lists together to share the costs, and then Bart planned to hire Jerry to send out his query. In turn, Jerry proposed to send out the query at a reduced rate since they would be sharing the cost of the list.

Bart accordingly bought three lists for about $200. However, after Jerry explained about the need to clean up the list before sending out a query in order to preserve his company's reputation with email service providers, Bart balked. He claimed he had found a service that would give him his own IP address and send out the queries for him, as well as remove any bounces, for only $99 a month for about 50,000 emails a month.

But when Jerry checked into the service, he discovered that it only sent out 75 queries an hour, which mean that it would take 30 days to send out a query to Bart's list of nearly 50,000 emails. Moreover, when Jerry did a test query of part of one of the lists they purchased together, he discovered and advised Bart that the bounce rate was 40%, but Bart didn't care about this warning. He even became angry when Jerry suggested that they might go back to the company and ask for a refund, because the return rate was so high. Instead, Bart justified the high rate because the list was relatively inexpensive, since a good list would be $3000 or $4000. Further, Bart told Jerry he didn't want Jerry to email him or call him about the lists they shared together, and asked Jerry to send a check for the balance of the money for the shared lists they had already gotten and another he planned to purchase for them. But given the high return rate, Jerry didn't want this additional list. However, Bart had unilaterally cut off further communication, since he was determined to do it his way, even though he had poor lists and would likely find his marketing emails not only delivered very very slowly but ultimately blocked because of the high bounce rate.

So what should Jerry have done - and what should you do if you run into a client who doesn't want to listen to your good advice - and probably may no longer be a client because of his or her attitude.

1. Don't let the experience discourage you. Not all clients will be a good fit with you.

2. Don't let this single experience cause you to hold back with other clients when you see they are making a mistake because of bad information. Continue to offer the best advice you can to other clients.

3. Do further research on the issues your client or prospective client has raised, so you are fully informed should the subject come up again.

4. When a client seeks to cut off communication because they refuse to listen to your good advice, your first reaction may be to want to call or email the person to explain or smooth over the situation. However, it's generally better not to respond under these circumstances. Instead, provide time for the person's anger to calm down - and in time, he or she is likely to find that your advice was good and he or she made a mistake in using incorrect information.

5. Think of what you might learn from the experience for the future.

6. If you still feel bad about what happened and the frayed relationship that resulted, do something to stop thinking about the situation and let it go. For example, participate in a fun activity, talk to some friends on the phone. And focus on the future, not what happened in the past.

Future posts on this subject will deal with other stories of problems with clients. I invite readers to send in their stories, which I can post and comment on in future blogs.

Gini Graham Scott, PhD, writes frequently about social trends and everyday life. She is the author of over 50 books with major publishers and has published 30 books through her company Changemakers Publishing and Writing. She writes books and proposals for clients and has written and produced over 50 short videos through Changemakers Productions and is a partner in a service that connects writers to publishers, agents, and the film industry. Her latest books include: Resolving Conflict and Lies and Liars: How and Why Sociopaths Lie and How to Detect and Deal With Them.