Today, we’re talking about having awkward money conversations with your clients.
We’ve all had them.
They’re an inevitable part of being in business and they can be super awkward and kind of icky and they can make you feel like vomiting.
But don’t worry! I’ve got lots of tips on how you can make them, not exactly enjoyable but definitely less awkward!
Let’s get into it.
I once said to one of my colleagues that I felt like being in business was just having to go through a series of awkward money conversations.
Conversations about pricing:
Awkward conversations about refunds.
Awkward conversations about overstepping boundaries.
People asking you to do work for free.
But that’s just business.
It’s very rare that you’ll get through your entire business without ever having to have at least a slightly awkward conversation about money.
Especially when you have the tools and experience to deal with it.
The bad news is that you make one thing a little bit less awkward and then there’s always going to be a new challenge to come up and new conversations to have.
You’ll get better and better and better at it.
Here are my top level tips.
The very first thing is when someone sends you an awkward conversation, and this is usually over email, don’t feel like you have to respond straightaway and don’t respond in panic.
Even if you respond to the person and say, “Let me have a think on that.” Or, “Let me get some resources for you and I’ll get back to you.”
So you’re not leaving them hanging, but you’re also not making a decision based on urgency.
Sometimes people will ask you something and, to be honest, you don’t know the answer to it. Maybe you have to go back and talk to your coach or you have to talk to your mastermind about it to see if they’ve experienced that before.
Sometimes people will asl something that will trigger you and you need a day to work through that. Maybe it’s triggered some of your old money blocks. Maybe you have to do some EFT on what it’s bringing up for you.
Just be okay with not responding straight away and giving yourself time to craft a good response.
There are a couple more reasons for that.
One is you might have to create a procedure around it. This is something I really recommend rather than making exceptions for everyone.
Create a complete procedure around it and then you can go back to your client and say, “Here’s the what we do.”
If somebody asks for a refund, if you don’t have any terms & conditions in place, now’s the perfect time to create them.
You might not be able to enforce it with this particular client, but at least you can go back and say, “I can make an exception this time, but for the future, this is the new procedure.”
That’s really, really key.
Awkward conversations are just a fact of business. It could be something you just haven’t thought of it before or it hasn’t come up for you before.
Or, to be honest, sometimes people can be really difficult and it’s got nothing to do with you at all.
Take just a few extra minutes to write about what the situation is bringing up for you, maybe somebody’s asked you for a refund and you’ve created this whole story in your head like, “I’m a terrible person. I’m not good at what I do. I suck. Everyone is going to hate it. Everyone else is going to ask for a refund.”
The truth is, when you give it a little bit of time, you realize that it’s just a rite of passage in business.
Everyone gets refund requests. It’s inevitable. I get refund requests all the time. The more business that you do, the more refunds that you’ll get because it will follow a predictable percentage.
But if you let any of these awkward money conversations create a story about yourself where you think, “I’m just terrible at being in business. I shouldn’t do this. I suck. They hate me,” then you’re really going to miss the lesson and you’re really going to miss the opportunity to create things in your business that will drive you forward.
Creating procedures out of awkward situations will create such a good foundation for you to build your business on.
Now, this is great if you already have an assistant. I have some resources for you if you haven’t hired your first assistant. But, outsource it and let someone else be the bad cop. Let someone else say,
“This is the procedure and this is what we do. This is what you have to do next.”
For example with refunds. If you’ve emailed my team at Lucky Bitch, you’re not emailing me and I’m not refunding you. That is my assistant and she knows the procedure and she doesn’t get triggered by it. She just does the procedure.
It means it’s wonderful for me because I don’t have to deal with it. We’ve got a procedure that we’ve agreed on, but I don’t have to be the bad cop. Sometimes she does have to be the bad cop if someone’s asking for a refund outside the refund period.
She has to tell them no. That kind of sucks. Sometimes it is good to have someone else in your business who can reinforce that.
If you haven’t got an assistant yet, first of all, get one. But you can ask your partner if they can be your finance officer. If you really have to, make up a fake assistant.
Lots of people have done that in their first year of business. I know I did. Just to have someone else to enforce the policy and someone else to be the bad cop. That’s going to make you feel so much better if you can outsource it or delegate it to someone else.
This is especially important if you’re going to have one of those awkward money conversations on the phone. If you’re on Skype, turn off your video and just say, “Look, let’s just do this on audio because it helps with the sound.”
Script it out.
I did this in my early days when I had to increase my prices.
I would script it out and I would read it out to my clients and say, “Just to let you know, my prices are going up on this X date and this is a new package going forward and blah, blah, blah.” I would just read it out word for word.
I would be nervous as hell, but I would read it out.
That’s exactly what you can do, whether it’s over the phone or on email. Have those canned responses so it’s very clear and you don’t have to come up with it on the fly. The more times you have these awkward conversations, you can just pull that out and send it. No need to think about it or obsess over it.
For example, a customer asks for early bird pricing after the deadline’s passed. How many times has that happened? A client misses a scheduled session. Now, that happens to everyone, but it’s really good to have a process for that and I’ve got a script and I’ve got some email scripts that you can use as well.