Yes, Leave Your Most Difficult Clients Behind, But…

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with CloseMyDeal, LLC Virtual TC Services

"You can't control other people's behavior, but you can control your response to it." --Roberta Cava, Author of Dealing with Difficult People

 After all, your most difficult clients tend to soak up the lion's share of your client service resources, which can leave you neglecting the needs of the mostly-silent majority that makes up the rest of your client base.

There's an essential distinction between a difficult client and a demanding one. Difficult or borderline hostile clients will frequently make your skin crawl, are loud, obnoxious, and tend to be abusive to your team members (and sometimes even you). It's the right call to eliminate these inevitable drains on your resources, and doing so can often singlehandedly improve morale across your team.

On the other hand, a demanding client might be the best thing to happen to your business. The differences between these two are profound, making them easy to tell apart. The difficult client may throw tantrums when you don't give in to their every demand. The demanding client is a passionate supporter of your business and service; they genuinely care and want to make it as good as possible.

Often, the demanding client is keenly interested in working with you toward the solution. They'll almost always be open to the suggestions or changes you make or offer their suggestions. And why not? Their suggestions were the catalyst for the difference in the first place!

In the end, what it comes down to is this. The difficult client is incredibly "me-centric." Their complaints invariably put them at the center of the Universe, which comes down to how much stuff they can get you to do for them. For less!

The demanding client is a different type of person altogether. While it's true that they want what they want, their focus is primarily on the service you're offering. They love it, are your brand advocates, and genuinely want to help improve it. 

You're almost always going to be well-served by saying goodbye to a difficult client. But in doing so, you must distinguish between them and the loyal-but-demanding client. You'll want to treat the latter as pure gold because they are. They will push you and your service to new heights, making it better than ever imagined.

The demanding client is an essential and trusted source of "quality" referrals. Referrals are a powerful sales engine that can enhance the closing rate and improve your business. 

Recognizing these types of clients takes a bit of foresight and practice. Still, once you become adept at spotting them, you'll see each as a golden opportunity for your thriving business.

Choose Clients as you would Friends." -- Charlie Munger, American billionaire investor, businessman, and former real estate attorney.

Comments (52)

Brian L. Sirota, Esq.
Bristar Realty (Realtor/Attorney) - Orange, CA
For Solutions: (714) 501-7660

Aura, I saw your headline and was prepared to disagree with you, for the first time.  Then, you ruined it by distinguishing between difficult and demanding clients.  Now, I'm stuck agreeing with you....  again.   Dang it!

Jul 27, 2022 02:21 PM
Aura Alex
CloseMyDeal, LLC - Seattle, WA
Need A TC? Virtual TC Services Nationwide

Ha!! I'd love for you to disagree with me sometimes; I could possibly tire you out and win the argument! 😅 Nice try, though, Brian L. Sirota, Esq. 

I'm glad my headline got you to comment on my post. 

 

Jul 27, 2022 03:32 PM
Aura Alex
CloseMyDeal, LLC - Seattle, WA
Need A TC? Virtual TC Services Nationwide

Hi, Edward Gilmartin; good for you. That can happen when no one else wants to play with the difficult one.

Thank you for being here.

Jul 27, 2022 03:38 PM
Aura Alex
CloseMyDeal, LLC - Seattle, WA
Need A TC? Virtual TC Services Nationwide

Hi, Kathy Streib.

I think it's challenging and rewarding to satisfy a difficult client's needs, and you have the patience and understanding to handle the client. Home staging is very delicate as you deal with people's pride and taste, which makes everything up close and personal. 

 

Jul 27, 2022 03:58 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Aura:

Toxic people, in business and in real life, can be an incredible drain on us emotionally. There is no value in continuing a relationship with such people. The key is identifying this early on and not wasting precious time and energy.

Jeff

Jul 27, 2022 08:14 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Aura excellent post and advice for the average Realtor in the country..... now here in the greater Los Angeles area we would have very few clients based on your advice probably  have more difficult clients vs. nicer ones. We get excited when we have a good client.... seriously in 27+ years  of being a Realtor I only fired  five clients. Endre

Jul 27, 2022 09:37 PM
Aura Alex
CloseMyDeal, LLC - Seattle, WA
Need A TC? Virtual TC Services Nationwide

Jeff Dowler, CRS 

You're right. It's hard to fathom any toxic people in our lives, and it gets more challenging when some toxic people are in your family!

Jul 27, 2022 09:48 PM
Aura Alex
CloseMyDeal, LLC - Seattle, WA
Need A TC? Virtual TC Services Nationwide

Endre Barath, Jr., are they that bad in Beverly Hills? I spent most of my real estate career with investors and investing for myself, so my clients had different expectations. I usually don't deal with the wealthy sellers, and the not-so-wealthy ones always thought we investors wanted to rip them off! Talk about having thick skin!

It's all perceptions, Endre. Stick to your gun is the best approach. It's not easy but doable. I have confidence in you!!

Jul 27, 2022 10:03 PM
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
Carolina Life RealEstate & Relocation 919-602-8489

Well put Aura! I've worked with both. The demanding client may challenge you but you'll be stronger in the end. The difficult client can suck the life out of you.

Jul 28, 2022 06:13 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi Aura,
I've been trying to figure out how to respond to this. It could go in so many different directions. I'm just competitive and stubborn enough to see demanding and difficult clients as a challenge and work with them to the end... closing that is. 

That said, there have been many I have chosen NOT to work with again when they came back for another transaction.  They are too much of a time and energy drain.

All that said, I recall one difficult client who said they weren't going to do this and that to get their home ready for market. I told him point blank then I'm not going to work with you. They did sign the listing agreement, and his wife later told me he respected me for standing my ground. 😊

Thanks for another thought-provoking post.

Jul 28, 2022 07:49 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.

Carol Williams  I had no idea you were part Hungarian I mean stubborn... we are on the same page:)Endre

Jul 28, 2022 09:14 PM
Aura Alex
CloseMyDeal, LLC - Seattle, WA
Need A TC? Virtual TC Services Nationwide

Carol Williams

I understand every word you say. I have had my fair share of dealing with both types of clients and still do daily. Grrrrrrr...!!

As nice as I want to be and remain calm, offering them a binary choice is good. Then I'm prepared to walk away. 

Jul 28, 2022 08:20 AM
Aura Alex
CloseMyDeal, LLC - Seattle, WA
Need A TC? Virtual TC Services Nationwide

Yes, Carla Freund, I agree. The difficult clients sometimes turn out to be just another demanding one after they throw tantrums and realize no one else wants to play ball with them. 

Jul 28, 2022 08:41 PM
Carla Freund

Exactly! 

Jul 31, 2022 06:50 AM
Kris Collis, Associate Broker
Smart Way America Realty - East Stroudsburg, PA
Professional Results you Expect 570-801-5525

Aura, There's something so instinctive about knowing when a referral to another agent is the right decision for a buyer or seller. We know it's the right course of action and down the road we never look back except to smile.

Jul 30, 2022 06:25 AM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster Real Estate - Gainesville, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

I think some can ride the line between difficult and demanding.  They are what we call unrealistic fans.

Jul 30, 2022 09:18 AM
Aura Alex
CloseMyDeal, LLC - Seattle, WA
Need A TC? Virtual TC Services Nationwide

Chris Ann Cleland, I agree with you. Some "difficult" clients could turn into "unrealistic fans" given a chance and patience on our part. 

Jul 30, 2022 10:25 AM
Aura Alex
CloseMyDeal, LLC - Seattle, WA
Need A TC? Virtual TC Services Nationwide

Kris Collis, Associate Broker 

I echo your thought. A quality referral is key, whether being the giver or recipient of the referral, it gives us a great feeling of accomplishment, reward, and a sense of trust in all parties. 

 

 

Jul 30, 2022 02:47 PM
Miriam Odegard
United Real Estate Indianapolis - Indianapolis, IN
Real Estate Broker Serving Greater Indianapolis

Oh my goodness--you have no idea how much I needed to hear this today!! Thanks for an excellent post!

Aug 02, 2022 03:37 AM
Aura Alex
CloseMyDeal, LLC - Seattle, WA
Need A TC? Virtual TC Services Nationwide

Hi, Miriam Odegard

Thank you for being here, and I hope your day is productive. Whatever decision you have made will yield excellent results! 😊    

Aug 02, 2022 06:52 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Interesting perspective!!  I've had both--over the years, I'd say I've had about five difficult clients, and they physically made my stomach churn when I heard from them or was trying to work with them.  We learn from both!

Aug 02, 2022 12:33 PM
Aura Alex
CloseMyDeal, LLC - Seattle, WA
Need A TC? Virtual TC Services Nationwide

Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR 

It's not easy to avoid the "difficult" ones because sometimes we don't know they will be awful. My little voice is usually right about whether I should pursue the "questionable" ones! 

Aug 02, 2022 02:40 PM