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Tips to Deal With Consulting Clients That Resist Change

By Michael Zipursky

Here’s a consulting question I received as part of the “Ask Michael” series:

“Hi Michael,

I’m David and I provide marketing consultation services to professional photographers over at Salevoke Marketing, mostly to wedding and portrait photographers.

I’ve been a long-time reader and have purchased your consulting book and I absolutely find them insightful and highly useful in the real-world.

My question revolves around customer’s resistance to change. 

With my client base, I have to say that about 50% of those who eventually chose to engage with my services after receiving a series of free content marketing (how-to emails, business strategy discussions, articles on common mistakes, etc.) when they opt-in have the tendency to resist trying solutions even after they’ve agreed that the strategy was sound and it addresses their current problems.

The go through the acknowledgement of their business problem and have decided to find solutions, but due to various concerns that they have, decide to go back to the “”I don’t know if can or if it will work”” phase.

It’s like getting all amped to go skydiving then backing out once the plane door opens at 10,000 ft.

How do you suggest proceeding without the ability to physically push them off the plane (figuratively speaking, of course). Note that virtually all my clients are online, not near my physical location. 

Thanks and more power to you.

Dave Tong

Salevoke Marketing”


Great question. This is an issue that many consultants have to deal with at some point.

Have you tried to show your clients case studies of what others have done and the results? Something that helps them see more clearly that they too can achieve those results if they follow your steps.

Next, have you found out what the main reason is that they are not moving forward?

What is their main concern or issue?

Fear, time, money, or something else?

Then see how you can help them overcome each one.

Would they pay a premium to have you execute the marketing for them?

You can’t change your clients. They have to change themselves. You can’t force them to do anything. They have to want to do it.

Your job is to help them arrive at the understanding that they have much more to lose if they don’t implement and that by taking action they will get the result they hired you for in the first place.

A few thoughts… hope that helps.

5 thoughts on “Tips to Deal With Consulting Clients That Resist Change

  1. JC says:

    Admitting they have a problem they cannot handle on their own is one of the toughest things for clients of consultancy. I usually provide them with some version of the Eisntein adage “The same thinking that contributed to the creation of a problem, cannot be used to solve it.” You can substitute the word “problem” with “challenge” or whatever you are more comfortable with, but they pretty much need to be convinced that their acceptance of NEW INFORMATION will create that needed change in thinking to allow the proposed solution to effect the desired outcome…

  2. Terry says:

    Client in agreement with your good ideas/plans but has “Frozen Feet”? Most likely it’s because of FEAR coupled WITH the fact that the road they are currently on (albeit not a good one) is familiar to them, predictable; easier for them to deal with because they’ve dealt with it in the past; even though their “dealings” didn’t solve their problem – they know what to expect even though its continued failure. They don’t trust themselves to utilize the plan & complete the task to its success. Thus, they may want someone (you) to sort-of “hold their hand” because now they have placed their $ on the line – they want it done right. A face to face meeting may alleviate apprehension and bolster confidence in your client – solidifying why they called for your help in the first place. Sometimes nothing beats the face-to-face, eye-to-eye meeting – you may want to consider doing a little travel if a video-cam/e-commute is not available.

    By-the-way: To JC – I like your Einstein reference! Makes total sense!

    • JC says:

      and you even spelled “Einstein” right! Way to go! I missed that typo… lol

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