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Dealing with Unresponsive Consulting Clients

By Michael Zipursky

At one time or another each one of us faces the unresponsive client.

We may have submitted a consulting proposal to begin work on a project. Have emailed the client to receive important documents that we need for the project to continue. Or have sent an invoice and are waiting to get paid.

You get no response, now what?

Here’s what I’ve found to be effective in dealing with unresponsive clients.

  1. Send a second email to your client to confirm that they received your first one and to see if they had any questions.
  2. Wait another 4-7 days and send a third email. If you’re waiting for payment or need a reply more urgently, skip this step and go to the next. If you’ve already been paid and the client is choosing to take their time, and they are okay with that pace, you may choose to fire off this email.
  3. Pick up the phone and call your consulting client. If they answer, great. You can then ask your question and get the response you need. If they don’t answer, be sure to leave a friendly voicemail checking in to confirm that they received your email and see if they had any questions.

You won’t need to go beyond this often. However, if you do…

  1. Send a fourth email. This time put “Is everything ok?” in the subject line and ask them if everything is okay in your email. Tell them that you are concerned as you haven’t heard back from them. (This technique has a 90%+ response rate).
  2. Speak to their assistant or secretary. Let them know that you’ve been trying to get in touch with your client and that you haven’t heard back. “Is everything ok?” If no, then you can deal with that situation as needed. If all is well, then you have a problem on your hands. You’re probably dealing with a nutty client. If that’s the case you’ll want to continue the sequence of contacting the client to get your money to that point if you haven’t been paid, and if you have been paid you can send your client an email and tell them that you are concerned about the project as it will be a challenge for your team to achieve the results you’ve agreed on without their prompt replies and input.

Again, you usually won’t have to go this far. But if you do, that’s how to approach it.

Don’t let your clients’ madness drive you crazy. Life’s too short.

Can you share any tips about dealing with unresponsive clients? Please do in the comments below…

4 thoughts on “Dealing with Unresponsive Consulting Clients

  1. Mj says:

    I usually let them know how busy I am and that respect for my time is the same courtesy that I extend to them and would expect the same. If it is a financial issue, I flat out ask them and follow with “was there anything wrong with the service me and my team provided?” They usually will then ask for a later pay date. I usually provide in my proposal the clause that states “we can discuss any part of this proposal as it is negotiable.” I’ll then follow up and ask if they need to discuss anything or if the money is an issue. Hope this helps.

  2. Vikrant says:

    Never provide any room (to clients) for putting paltry excuses against payment release.
    Try to make the communication process intact and self supporting. for example: if you have been told that your payment will be released by tomorrow evening..then wait till the next morning of the promised day….then directly ask your client about the transaction don’t ask about the payment status..if you do this..this might be again misleading to you.

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