How to Deal With Difficult Clients

You’re the one with the training, expertise and specialized knowledge, right? So why won’t that stubborn client listen to what you have to say?

When working in the relationship business, there invariably will come a time when there will be relationships that are strained, tried and tested; when you are dealing with people, you are not just handling their business- you are also dealing with a complex system of personalities and emotions, which in and of itself present a set of challenges. Not only do you need keen business skills to succeed as a Real Estate or Mortgage Professional, you need to know how to navigate the minefield of dealing with the difficult client- profitably.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

As with any relationship, communication is the key factor in dictating sink or swim. When you are not seeing eye-to-eye with a client, try to determine what is really at the source of conflict. Is there an issue around price or service? Do they feel disappointed in some way? Are they feeling overwhelmed or nervous? Perhaps a stubborn client is not stubborn or difficult at all, but anxious, and they simply require more reassurance that they are in good hands.

Sometimes, all that is needed is to discover and discuss the problem at hand in order to diffuse it. Good listening is as useful as talking.

The Customer is Always Right?

This cornerstone of customer service industries should be your motto, or should it?

The client is always right, in one regard- in that it is an unwise business move- especially in transactional business, to argue with a client in hopes of convincing them of your point of view. But how does this saying apply to long-term relationship business, particularly when, because of your foresight and experience, feel compelled to try to convince a client to see your point of view?

Perhaps the best way to smooth this conflict over, is to take the idea of right and wrong out of the equation altogether. You are both after achieving similar goals. The difference is that you can share your wisdom to help the client get there more swiftly, if at all. If, after all scenarios are laid out on the table, a client still insists on a particular course of action, as professionally difficult as it may be, you must let the chips fall where they may.

Eliminate Problems Before they Begin

Because a client is seeking a property, or financing does not automatically make you the right person to fill that need for them, and vice versa.

Try to determine if a client will be a match before you even leave the starting gate, and you may be able to avoid a boatload of trouble down the road.Make sure that you fully understand client wants and needs. Set some operational ground rules in the first few meetings. Most importantly, know who you are as a professional- and what works personality wise and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to send a client on their way if you sense trouble brewing on the horizon. Although much of your business success is built on strategy, this is an area where gut feel can carry a lot of weight.


It may not be enough for a stubborn client to trust that you know what you’re talking about- you may have to demonstrate it. The key is to be proactive in showing clients the “why” behind what you are saying, or the motivation drawn from data, knowledge or experience that you work the way you do, or suggest a certain product or strategy to them.

Hard facts, if you have them, can help to help a stubborn client to at least see your point of view. They also lend context and backup to your argument.

Know When to Say When

Despite your best efforts, there may come a time where it is just no longer worth investing time into salvaging a difficult client relationship.In this regard, professional life mirrors personal life; there are relationships that make sense, and are healthy; there are those that are not. If a client relationship threatens to swallow more time than is necessary, damage the bottom line or frustrate you long term, it makes sense to “break up”. Every minute you spend with a client who will ultimately not be profitable in the end, is time taken away from focusing on good clients, where the relationship is promising and reciprocal.


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Sherif Nathoo

Sherif Nathoo

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Leading Edge Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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