Dealing with Clients Who are at Their Worst

Dealing with Clients Who are at Their WorstDecember 13, 2022

Dealing with Clients Who are at Their Worst

If you’re a solo or small professional services provider, you know that clients come to you carrying what’s often a very high level of frustration and angst over a particular problem. Whether it involves their marketing or accounting, a legal issue, or maybe a dysfunctional team, they’re burdened with it. Running a small business causes stress on its own, and the weight of the issue which prompted your meeting is piled right on top.

Thanks to an increased amount of research in recent years, we know a lot more about how stress and anxiety affect reactions and decision making. Some recent findings include:

–Stress and anxiety can lead to reductionary thinking, where a myriad of possible options is reduced to binary, “black and white” thinking.

–Stress and anxiety can cause a denial of reality because an individual cannot handle the level of uncertainty they’re confronted with in their business and personal lives.

–Chronic stress biases decision making toward habits (the familiar) vs. goals (the unknown).

–Stress and anxiety can cause a person to put off making a decision because they’re fearful of making the wrong choice.

–Stress affects the brain’s ability to weigh benefits and costs.

When you think about what’s going on in the head of your client, you come to understand that there’s more “value” in a value conversation than what comes from the work you’ll do for that client. The conversation itself offers extraordinary value:

–You’re slowing down and bringing calm to the situation. You’re not rushing in to talk about your service offering. You’re not causing anxiety by charging in with sales scripts and memorized counters to objections.

–You’re bringing two open ears and one mouth to the conversation and using those tools in that proportion. You’re allowing a client to breathe, to unload, and to hopefully get to a point where they are sharing what’s been weighing them down. This act alone is liberating for the client.

–You’re momentarily readjusting the lens of the client, away from the mud of the problems which have you sitting there, and upward to their hopes and dreams for the business and for themselves and their family.

–You’re offering a value roadmap which goes well beyond the completion of a set of tasks. You’re showing a client what transformation in their business looks like, and what it does for them personally.

–You’re making the cost/benefit considerations easier for that stress-filled client. You’re quantifying the value they’ll receive, and simply asking the client to pay a small portion of that value.

Effective value conversations aren’t just a method to determine and improve our own pricing. The conversation itself can offer a tremendous gift for our clients.



Image created using Craiyon (Formerly DALL-E Mini)

(This blog post was also posted on LinkedIn.)

©Ray Business Advisors, LLC and John Ray


About me: I help solo or small professional services firm owners with the confidence and positioning necessary to improve their pricing and change the trajectory of not only their business but their life.

I have a podcast called The Price and Value Journey, which features interviews with industry leaders and audio versions of my blog posts. You can find the podcast on your favorite podcast app.

I also have a book coming out in 2023:  The Price and Value Journey: Raise Your Confidence, Your Value, and Your Prices to Grow Your Business Using The Generosity Mindset.

For more information, go to

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