“The Client Is Always Right,” they say proudly.
If the client is a soul-sucking, verbally abusive monster who makes you feel less than dirt, they’re not right. They’re Energy Vampires and you need to kill them. Not literally, of course. I mean fire them. Tell them to exit, stage left, out of your life forever.
“Oh, but they represent XXX in billing.”
Yep. And you know what else? They KNOW it. That’s the worst part of all. So they’re not even clients anymore. They’re bullies. They want everything done right now because they represent that much money or a percentage of your billings. And you let them know with your behavior that says, “Thank you sir, may I have another?” Anything to make them happy.
But you’re not happy. And whatever little deal you want to make with yourself that a certain client brings in dollars, they may not bring in anything else. And dollars, at least in my point of view, are not anywhere near enough. If you have an Energy Vampire of a client, your staff probably hates you for not having the guts to fight for their needs. That should do wonders for retention. But hey, you give them great benefits…which means less than nothing to their daily functionality and joy.
I’ll bet you don’t get a bunch of referrals from the Energy Vampire either, do you?
Maybe that’s a good thing since they’re awful non-humans who will stick to their own kind, but still, shouldn’t they want to refer you if the relationship has been satisfying? Or, let me guess – they think you should just be happy having their business.
Oh yes! This person who treats me awfully is giving me money! What a joy entrepreneurialism is! We can book you for a Ted Talk entitled, “How I Sold My Soul, Got Divorced, Lost My Kids’ Love And Will Die Early Just To Have More Money This Month.”
Speaking of death, which is the contribution the Energy Vampire is making toward your health, do you think this lovely individual will come to your funeral? I’m being 100% serious. Would they feel your loss? Would they take off the time to attend your service? And above all, would they CRY?
Let me answer that for you: They. Will. Not. They won’t cry. They won’t show up. They won’t care about the impact on your family for more than 5 seconds before they think about how it impacts them, if it does at all. I wouldn’t be shocked if they never sent a condolence card or made a contribution to a charity.
A valued coach of mine, Scott Hansen, once shared this thought with me:
I want you to think about that for a moment. Who are those 10 people who will cry at your funeral? Not your Energy Vampire of a client. No way in hell.
This is why I must have clients that I care about. You cannot do your best work without a genuine care for others. It is vital to being true to who I am and to my integrity. Nothing is “transactional” about the relationship. And because I am that much “all in,” I expect my clients to be somewhere in the vicinity of care and commitment. I don’t want Energy Vampires. I want people I sincerely enjoy being around and admire for the passion they have for their craft. They want to be better all the time. They know they have things to learn and they respect what I can teach them or bring to the table as their marketing partner. They don’t think they’re experts on marketing because of what their kid in college told them or what a random person at a networking group told them or the presentation they saw or the one seminar they attended. They want to improve. But they know where they are and they know where I am. Anything different and they might as well pretend they know how to sew up a body on the surgeon’s table just because they watched a medical drama on TV last night.
That kind of fascination with shiny object tools and flavor of the month advice speaks to respect for you. Plain and simple. And if you don’t have their respect, you don’t need their business.
How do you spot them earlier? For what it’s worth, here’s the way I do it in no time:
This life is too short for us to put up with anybody and everybody who believes their dollars allow them to be assholes. No thanks. We like to keep a quota of zero Energy Vampires here. So whether they come in like that or turn that way over time, you know what to do. Be brave. And then drive a stake right through the heart of their overconfidence that they can treat you any way they please. There’s another force of kindness and good right around the corner you can spend your valuable hours on instead. And they’re just waiting to appreciate you so much more.