Icon Key
Bookmark and Share


Business Development

Potentially Difficult Client

Print View |  Bookmark & Share  |  Comment |   |  Back to List |  << Previous Next >>

There are two (2) letters in this section, both less than 400 words. The first is more legalistic, restrictive, and closed. The second, more open and friendly. To give them more power, both proposals were sent through the mail on company letterhead.

Here's the story: A prospective client met with us to discuss our services, and agreed to begin a clearly-defined consulting program. Understanding the potential for buyer's remorse, and understanding the difficulty of committing to change, I called him a couple days later to reassure him and begin the process. He expressed reluctance, wasn't sure what the program included, and was trying to determine our hourly rate.  He thought the first payment of $3500 included three months of consulting, rather than the deliverables specified. These words don't communicate the difficulty he presented. It's not what he asked, but how he asked it. Although I didn't say it, I felt, "This is going to be a difficult person to deal with."

I explained the process again, told him our fees were not negotiable and that they were not based on hourly rates. When the call concluded, he seemed pleased, and agreed to go forward. I asked if it would help him to have something in writing, and he thought it would. Based on these events, I decided to write a specific, measurable, and limited proposal that would put us in charge and allow no gray areas for disagreement. The letter to Winston Applegate, is below. After he received the letter, he called our salesperson to ask if I was "mad at him," and when he was told that there was no problem, he signed the letter and became a client.

Later that month, I got a referral from a close friend for similar services and re-tooled the proposal. This time the prospective client, Randolph B. Becker, was easygoing-and also a friend of a friend. Therefore, I softened the proposal. (The price is less because fewer services are included.) Notice that I added a credit card section to allow him to pay quickly and easily. He also became a client.

May 5, 20—  

Winston Applegate
1000 17th Avenue
Union City, TX 75703

Dear Winston,

This is the letter of agreement for our services that you requested.

[Here, I spelled out four deliverables in one paragraph each.]

These four phases require engagement, effort, and considerable input from you. The non-refundable fee is $3500, payable in advance. Given the difficulty of your situation, we could have, or perhaps should have, raised the fee. The fee is not based on time, i.e., the number of consulting hours; it is based on the deliverables itemized above.

Once this assignment is completed, if you are happy with the process and if we agree that we are working well together, we will present a second proposal for the next phase of our engagement.

Our schedule is busy and we have only two startup slots in December with several others wanting to begin. If you are at all unsure about going ahead, we can postpone your start date to January or February to give you adequate time to assess your options. In order to begin on December 13 at 1:00 p.m. as scheduled, we need your commitment and payment by Friday, December 3, 20--.

Let me know how you'd like to proceed,

William S. Frank

Accepted and Agreed to:                  DATE

[CareerLab letterhead]

May 29, 20—

Randolph B. Becker
17732 Broadway
Denver, CO 80230

Dear Randy,

It's been fun getting to know you. This is the letter of agreement for our services that we discussed.

[Here, I spelled out three deliverables in one paragraph each.]

These three phases require engagement, effort, and input from you. The non-refundable fee is $1900, payable in advance.

Randy, as soon as I receive your signed agreement I'll contact you with some assignments and a link for the Birkman assessment. Call me if you have any questions.

With best wishes,

William S. Frank

Accepted and Agreed to:           DATE

AMX? M/C? Visa? Discover? EXP: ________         

Please print your name as it appears on your credit card

C/C Number:_________________________________     

FAX to: 303-790-0606 or enclose check and mail

Print View |  Bookmark & Share  |  Comment |   |  Back to List |  << Previous Next >>


Add a Comment
Your rating:
Your URL:
Your e-mail:
Enter security code:
 Security code
(please enter the
numbers on the image)

William S. Frank, M.A.,
25 Reasons I love consulting.
by William S. Frank
  1. Brand. You are your own brand, and you can define it any way you want. For many years, I provided outplacement to the ex-employees of Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield service corporation. When departing employees left the company, they didn't request outplacement in their severance package. They said, "I want Bill Frank."
  2. Demand. The world will always be full of terrible problems that need solving.
  3. White Hat. I can be a helper and get paid for it.
  4. Pay. I can be paid to do things I'd gladly do for nothing.
  5. Variety. Every day is different.
  6. Happiness. At this stage of my career, I only work for people I respect and care about. If a client micromanages me or is otherwise no fun, I complete the assignment and replace them.
  7. Talent. I'm using 110% of my talents and stretching myself to the max.
  8. Change. I can change my focus any day I want. If you're a McDonald's franchisee, you don't say, "Hey, I've got this great idea for a meatball sandwich—let's try it out today." In consulting you can adjust your focus hour-by-hour, as long as your clients still understand and appreciate what you do.
  9. Income. No one else would pay me as much as I pay myself.
  10. FUN. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.
  11. Retirement. I can write and consult as long as I am physically and mentally capable. Peter Drucker worked into his 90s, and when asked which book was his best, he said: "My next one."
  12. Job Security. Although clients come and go, no one can come into my office and say, "Pack up your stuff . . . You don't work here anymore." In 29 years, I've only had one employer: ME.
  13. Travel. I don't have to travel unless I decide to. I travel if it's both FUN and profitable—or at least FUN.
  14. Commute. I live five minutes from my office, a corner office in an upscale six-story tower. In winter, I leave a heated garage at home and drive to an underground heated garage at work. There's seldom time to hear even one song on the radio.
  15. Vacation. Consulting is more fun than vacation (except on Wailea Beach in Maui).
  16. Friends. I have developed hundreds of close acquaintances and several lifetime friends.
  17. Time. I can work as much or as little as I like: four-hour days or 18-hour days. (Of course, my income will reflect that.)
  18. Employees. I can work with employees, subcontractors, partners, or alone—I've done it all.
  19. Passive Income. I've developed several products that provide "mailbox money." I earn while I'm sleeping.
  20. Ethics. I've never had to violate my values or personal code of ethics. I've never had to lie, purposely deceive or harm others, or promise things I can't deliver. I go to bed with a clear conscience. That doesn't mean there's never any conflict. But the conflict is conducted according to generally accepted business practices.
  21. Virtual. My career is fairly portable. With the Internet, e-mail, cell phone, and FedEx, I can work nationally, even internationally from my office—or anywhere in the world.
  22. Purpose. I make a difference in peoples' lives every day. I see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, and read it in their thank-yous.
  23. Experience. Every painful or joyful life experience makes me a better consultant. So does every person I meet or book I read. Grey hair can be good in consulting.
  24. Structure. I have to work very hard, and the clients expect superb results—but I get to structure my days, weeks, months, and years.
  25. Boss. Most of the time, I love my boss.
As I was posting these letters online, I realized I want to communicate my love for consulting. It's just a great business. The single letters, taken together, may create a picture of enjoyment, but in a burst of creativity I listed some of the reasons consulting is such a good fit for me—and perhaps for you, too. They are not prioritized; this is just how they came out.