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When clients don’t follow your recommendations

July 3rd, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber KS writes:

“I’d like to be taken seriously for my experience and knowledge,
and yet I can’t seem to convince clients to do as I recommend.

“Bob, do you have any advice on convincing clients to listen to
your recommendations?”

KS may not like my answer, but the fact is clients will never do
everything you say.

HB, a famous consultant in the 20th century, once famously said:
“Only half my clients take my advice, and of those, they listen
to only half the advice.”

If you do the arithmetic, you see that only 25% of HB’s advice to
his clients — and he was a well-respected expert in his niche of
management — was followed.

Likewise, figure only 25% of your advice will be followed,
meaning 75% won’t be.

And in some cases, client reasons for ignoring or going against
your recommendations are legitimate and the correct decision.

What are those reasons? I’ll give them for freelance copywriters,
though many may apply to you, even if you are not a writer.

>> First, the client may have already tried what you suggest,
often multiple times — and it did not work.

Not being on staff, you didn’t know this when you presented your
idea. But they did, since clients have a knowledge of their
efforts and results superior to yours.

>> Second, the client virtually always knows their industry,
product, technology, talent, and market better than you do.

>> Third, as Tom Peters said in In Search of Excellence, people
don’t argue with their own data. They may trust you to a degree.
But they usually trust themselves more.

>> Fourth, you get your fee no matter what. You risk nothing on
the project. On the other hand, it is the client’s money, not
yours, on the table. There is a limit to what they will risk on a
new idea or plan, especially one they do not fully buy into.

>> Fifth, no one knows everything or is right all the time.
Including you and me.

Biggest mistake vendors make: Getting all huffy and puffy,
arguing with the client endlessly, and not listening when the
client says “thanks but no thanks” to your idea.

Solution: Defend your copy or idea reasonably and briefly; then,
if the client still does not agree, acquiesce pleasantly.

Also: If you think the client’s way will kill results, say so
politely in a brief email follow-up — and save a copy so you can
prove you advised against their plan if it should fail and they
blame you.

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