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The Mad Clientist

13 Unspoken Rules of Client Relationships

By March 11, 2015April 16th, 2020No Comments

Unspoken rules are the gifts which keep on giving for some and the bane of our existence for others. Those who know and live by these rules thrive and love what they do. Those who don’t work harder for less enjoyment and return—they may love what they do—but not quite as much as those who know the unspoken rules.

13 unspoken rules governing client relationships emerged from BTI’s more than 14,000 client feedback interviews. Clients rarely speak these words directly to their service providers, if ever. But, clients see these rules as part of their core personality, behavior and decision making.

The 13 Unspoken Rules of Client Relationships   

1. Clients always find a way to hire the people they want when they want to.

2. Clients don’t fire their law firms, they just stop giving them work.

3. “Your rates are too high” is a euphemism for “I want to give the work to someone else”.

4. Clients always have a budget even when they don’t.

5. Nothing is more powerful than saying I’m sorry when mistakes are made. Nothing.

6. Clients will always give you hints and suggestions for how to be successful but will rarely announce when they offer this advice.

7. Clients want to know you understand them before they take the time to really understand you.

8. It takes between 24% and 33% savings to convince a client to even think about changing providers.

9. Clients want to pride themselves on hiring really smart people not really cheap people.

10. Invoices are a poor vehicle to communicate your progress and strategy.

11. Happy clients don’t pick your invoices apart.

12. No project news is always bad news.

13. Clients hate surprises. 

Some of these rules demand tremendous self-honesty but they can cast new light on your client’s decisions and actions—which tell us how to improve. This form of indirect feedback can drive change for those who accept and absorb the messages into their thinking.

Unspoken rules are the hardest to learn. But, those who master these rules become the hardest to beat. 


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