Say this, not that: 3 simple swaps to earn your clients’ respect

Say This, Not That: 3 Simple Swaps to Earn Your Clients' Respect
Written by: Karl Sakas

To improve accountability, I’ve recommended that you ‘ban’ the phrase “almost done” at your agency.

Now—to help you earn clients’ respect—it’s time to ‘ban’ three more words:

  1. “Easy”
  2. “Just”
  3. “Try”

Let’s look at why they hurt your agency’s profit margins—and what to say instead of those three.

Why to ‘ban’ the word “Easy”

Your team is forbidden from telling clients something is “easy.”

Why? “Easy” implies free or nearly free, and something you can do while you’re on the phone with the client. “Easy” makes clients focus on the time it takes for you to make the update—not the valuable years of experience that taught you what to do.

Use “straightforward” instead.

When something’s “straightforward,” clients aren’t surprised when you ask, “Would like an estimate for that?” Instead, “straightforward” is moderately expensive and something you need to schedule with your team.

Watch for “easy” internally, too. I had a designer who’d frequently make client-requested changes before I’d secured budget approval. I’d have to ask him to roll it back—what was “easy” for him is something I’d quoted to the client as $125 (our base charge for that type of work), and they hadn’t agreed to pay yet.

Why to ‘ban’ the word “Just”

Don’t say “just,” either.

“Just” is a false minimizer. When someone asks for “Just five minutes of your time,” they say “just” to make it sound like it’s a small ask. The reality is that they want more than five minutes—and it’s usually something you shouldn’t be giving away for free.

Instead, think about how to rephrase sentences without “just.” And be on the lookout for clients trying to slip “just” into their requests.

As an agency PM, I had a client who liked to say any of his requests would take “just an hour” to implement. When I’d come back and say, “From speaking with our developers, we need a $1,000 budget,” he’d always be indignant.

Start listening for “just” in others’ conversations. You’ll probably find you use it, too—I know I do.

Why to ‘ban’ the word “Try”

“Try” implies a lack of conviction. Your clients don’t want you to “try”—they want you to get things done, or let them know why you couldn’t do it.

“Try” is what your Wet Twine employees do—and they conveniently disappear when it’s time to see if their “try” produced results.

Instead, do or do not. Your clients are expecting results—and expecting you to take responsibility when you don’t produce results.

Question: What words or phrases have you ‘banned’ at your agency?

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