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5 Signs Your Client is Ready to Move On

Updated: May 15

"Alexa, play breakup songs," because we're talking about clients leaving us. Breakups sting like shattered glass on the soul, and what's more agonising? Ending a client relationship. Many months later, as you reflect on the fallout, you realise there were plenty of warning signs – a.k.a. Red Flags – that things had been on the rocks. 

Like any relationship, running a business also requires reading your clients, their motivation, and where they're coming from. Recently published data by CallRail reveals that onboarding a new client is 4X more expensive than retaining an existing one. The idea of walking away from an existing client may seem detrimental, especially if you are trying to build long-term business growth, but not every client is worth your valuable resources. When you see the alliance doing more harm than good, it's best to end it and focus on projects that help your business succeed in the long term.

However, breaking up with a client isn't always as easy, especially during March-April, when clients suddenly start eyeing other agencies as if browsing through a dating app. Recognising the signs early on could save you from a breakup, which is worse than a bad date. Once you've made the decision, doing it tactfully ensures you keep your company's reputation intact!

Here are the top five signs to keep an eye out for:

  • The Ghosting: 

Ever experienced the eerie silence from a client, like they vanished into thin air? Just like a romantic relationship, sudden ghosting from a client can also send shivers down your spine. 

Such clients may pay their bills on time, but reaching them through calls or emails is difficult. Even if they reply, you may not hear back again for many days. This is usually common when dealing with large clients because of the levels/teams' invoices, vendor quotations, etc., that are involved. 

It may happen for two reasons: Something has happened internally with the client (change in POC or employee responsibilities), and the ball got dropped. Or, the client has some issues, and they feel it's easier to ignore them than to address them. 

  • The Sudden Change in Behaviour:

Noticed your client acting a little off lately? Maybe their communication style has changed, or they aren't as responsive. Clients come in many different flavours. Some are super-quiet, while others prefer to check in regularly—everyone has their way of working—but a sudden shift in their communication style can be alarming. 

While it's beneficial for clients to ask questions, it's also essential to strike a balance. It's great when they're engaged in the process and inquire about progress and outcomes. However, if they repeatedly ask only about their results and future steps every month, it indicates a communication issue. 

  • They Need More Time Than Required: 

As an industry player, you're skilled at assessing the value of each client's time. However, when clients consume your time with unproductive tasks, it not only eats into billable hours but also drains your team's energy, increasing the risk of burnout.

It's crucial to recognise that dealing with challenging clients comes with an opportunity cost. Channelling extra time and energy into managing such clients can compromise the quality of other aspects of your business. 

Here are some common red flags of a difficult client:

  1. Holding unproductive meetings.

  2. Straying from agreed plans, causing workflow delays.

  3. Rejecting most of the proposed ideas.

  4. Slow response to inquiries or project goals.

  • When They’re ‘Seeing’ Other People: 

When clients begin to consider alternative options or start enquiring about your competitors, it's likely a sign that they are looking for a new agency. They might offer their respective account managers a sneak peek into the entire setup, inviting proposals for improvements.

Although it would be easy to play dirty in this situation, we advise taking the morally higher road and directly conversing with your client. Engage in an honest conversation with your clientele. Ask if their needs are being met and discuss what they're looking for. This helps you understand their concerns better and allows you to demonstrate why you're the right choice for the job.

  • The "It's Not You, It's Me" Talk: 

Eventually, you must initiate the dreaded breakup conversation, even with your client. For instance, when clients expect quick delivery without clear direction, they may operate in emergency mode, expecting the same urgency from you. Or if a detailed report doesn't meet their expectations and they constantly ask you to do things out of your scope of work. Similarly, if a client makes unreasonable demands or gaslights you for not meeting them, it's a sign to move on. 

Handling these discussions with professionalism and grace is crucial. This is your chance to salvage the relationship or part ways amicably, demonstrating respect for their decision and leaving the door open for future opportunities. Remember, how you handle the "It's not you, it's me" moment can define your reputation and set the tone for future interactions. 

Some Key Insights:

  1. Stay vigilant for signs of client discontent, such as sudden silence or behaviour changes.

  2. Address concerns promptly and proactively to prevent misunderstandings.

  3. Provide exceptional service to foster client loyalty and prevent them from looking elsewhere.

  4. Approach difficult conversations with professionalism and empathy.

  5. Use humour and relatability to maintain a positive relationship dynamic.

Connect with us on social media to stay updated on the latest trends and insights on client relationship management. Follow us on Instagram & LinkedIn for regular updates and engaging discussions.


Psst! This blog was made with 💛 and created after some thought by a real person. #NoGenerativeAI

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