Dealing with Control Freaks
COW Library : Business & Marketing Tutorials : Ron Lindeboom : Dealing with Control Freaks
First thing, right out of the gate, let's get one thing clear: Not all control freaks are bad for business. Sure, they can be irritating and even down-right obnoxious at times but they are also often true perfectionists with vision who know exactly what they want and if you are successful in helping them get there, they often make great clients. Clients who can write some hefty checks to you as they sweat through the minuitae and detail of finding exactly what they want.
You would be smart when working with control freaks to always make sure that they are billed on the clock and not at a flat rate. Flat rates and control freaks do not a happy marriage make -- well, at least not when you are the one who will end up paying for the wedding.
This list is in no way comprehensive but you get the point.
Then Why Deal With Control Freaks?
Control freaks have to lead and you will be well-served to understand that point coming out of the gate. A control freak will often surround themselves with people who don't even know what they are doing just so that they can appear even more knowledgeable and expert in their own eyes. If you are an expert, it is far smarter to remember that God gave you one mouth and two ears and use that lesson in priorities to your advantage with the control freak.
Keep in mind that control freaks are ego maniacs and anything that is viewed as corrective or as not coming from them will quickly place you in the "them" category in the "us and them" thinking of the control freak. Learning this lesson well could place you as one of the only people they trust in a world full of "thems."
Understand that you are not really ever going to "win" with this kind of client -- well, unless you remember that in business the sweetest victory is cashing the check. Check your ego at the door and let your words be few. After all, the control freak will talk enough for the both of you anyway! And it's likely that they will even ask you the question and tell you what you answer is going to be anyway. Remember the check. That will help.
As mentioned earlier, never work with a control freak on a "pay at job completion" basis. If you do, you will live to regret that decision. Always work on "milestones" and bill for work up to that milestone. Consider this as a means of getting this kind of client to give you "the little 'yes's'" that salespeople look for when they ask closing questions that make a prospect answer yes. Getting them to agree that you are doing your part is paramount to having them accept you into their circle of "us" and kept you from falling into the "them" category. If you allow the billing to mount until the jobs completion, you will invariably fail them for some reason or other and end up in the "them" pile along with a bill that they will usually fight you about paying.
Let circumstances and the mounting time they are running up on the clock erode their boundless self-confidence. Time wears away stones and great mountains, so it will also win in the battle with the control freak. That is, if you have been billing the milestones and haven't let it all slip into one big billable mess at job's end.
-- Ron Lindeboom
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