Learning how to deal with manipulative clients is a challenge, but it’s not impossible! By setting clear boundaries, communicating assertively, addressing issues early on, and knowing when to walk away, you can maintain a healthy working relationship, deliver high-quality work, and experience skyrocketing retention because your team will see that you won’t allow clients to walk all over them. The key is staying professional and objective and focusing on your goals.
Manipulative behavior by clients can take many forms and is unfortunately common in many industries. Some manipulative customers use tactics like changing the scope of the project, withholding payment, or threatening legal action. Other manipulative customers rely on emotional manipulation, guilt, or resorting to aggressive or even hostile behavior.
It’s important to be aware of these behaviors and have strategies for dealing with them to ensure that you can maintain a healthy working relationship with your clients while protecting your people and interests.
How to Deal With Manipulative Clients
Manipulative clients can put you in a difficult position, make it harder for you to complete your work on time or within budget, damage your professional reputation, and hurt your relationship with your employees. By setting clear boundaries, communicating assertively, addressing issues early on, and knowing when to walk away, you can maintain a healthy working relationship with clients and colleagues and deliver high-quality work.
Taking Consilio’s sales training in San Diego to learn how to deal with manipulative clients can help you navigate complicated dynamics without compromising the sale or relationship. It’s easy to fight fire with fire in these situations, but communicating effectively instead is crucial for leaders to learn in middle management training.
Avoid Reacting With Emotion and Be Positive
When dealing with clients who try to bully and manipulate to get their way, emotional responses forfeit control.
Emotional responses can be detrimental when dealing with manipulative clients because they can be used against you. Manipulative clients are often skilled at using emotional triggers to get their way, and if you respond emotionally, you may inadvertently provide them with more ammunition to manipulate you.
Sales training in San Diego can teach your team to maintain their composure. By maintaining a professional demeanor and keeping your emotions in check, you protect your well-being and maintain a clear head free from clouded judgment.
Be positive, offer solutions, and give options to make them feel in control. Remember, it’s OK to tag in a colleague when your emotions start boiling over.
Share Information with Your Team and Support Them
When learning how to deal with manipulative clients, keep your team updated and support them. The only way to avoid a venom-filled bite from a toxic client is to have a unified front.
“Whenever your team faces a problem, they need to understand what the client is doing specifically and how you will use resources to handle the situation. This sends a message to your team that you won’t allow clients to mistreat them, which is also a win-win for retention,” Stacey McKibbin, CEO of Consilio, explained.
Is the client making baseless accusations? Are they trying to get free products? Or are they explicitly threatening your company? Communicating with and supporting your team when handling a manipulative client is essential to avoid being taken advantage of.
Agree on Strategies And Stick With The Plan
Having a plan and sticking to it is crucial to understanding how to deal with manipulative clients. When you have a plan, you help yourself remain objective and focused.
By establishing clear boundaries and documenting all communications, you can avoid getting caught up in emotional responses, and you can stay focused on your goals and objectives. Examples of strategies include:
- Setting Clear Boundaries: Before starting work with a client, clearly define the scope of the work, timeline, communication channels, and any limitations that apply to the project. Ensure the client understands your expectations and limitations, and don’t hesitate to say “no” if the client tries to push you beyond your boundaries.
- Documenting Everything: Keep a record of all communications and agreements with the client, including emails, messages, and phone calls. This can help you avoid misunderstandings and disputes that may arise from manipulative behavior. Make sure that you have a clear understanding of the client’s expectations and that you are both on the same page.
- Addressing Payment Issues Early: Be clear about payment terms and expectations, and address any issues with payment early in the project. If the client withholds payment or threatens legal action, be prepared to take legal action if necessary
“Dealing with manipulative clients is overlooked in a lot of sales training. Not every client is guilty of this, but this behavior manifests in varying degrees, and strategizing against it is crucial,” Stacey elaborated.
Planning what you will say during interactions with customers and devising responses to what you predict they will say is important. Think about past interactions and the manipulative behavior they exhibit, and plan for it all.
Learn How to Deal With Manipulative Clients With Premier Middle Management Training
Learning how to deal with manipulative clients is an essential part of middle management training that enables you and your team to close more deals and operate at peak performance. At Consilo, we offer premier direct sales coaching that empowers you and your team to charm and win clients over.
Create success on purpose. Schedule a consultation to learn about our 6-step process that provides more control over clients and who you do business with.