Getting Clients to Respond! – A Podcast

By Michael Stelzner

Do you have clients that seem to disappear the moment you deliver a project to them?

In this podcast I share my secret weapon to getting clients off their backside and back in your face.

I would love your comments on this strategy. Feel free to share your tactics for getting clients to respond.


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  • Graham Strong

    You’re right on the money with that one. You submit a project, you’re excited about what you’ve done, you want some great feedback and then… nothing.

    You start thinking to yourself “Was it really that bad?” You get that sinking feeling of “They must hate it — why haven’t they gotten back to me? They hate it, and they don’t want to tell me straight up…” You review it, start seeing all the flaws, resist the urge to rewrite again so you still have the same version as your client.

    At some point soon after, you start planning your new career.

    And then one day, out of the blue, you get a call from an apologetic client. “Got caught up on another project. Love the piece though, just a couple of changes and we’re done…”

    Suddenly, you’re the world’s best writer again…

    Thanks for the tip, Mike! Hopefully it will help me avoid a lot of stress in the future!


  • Michael Stelzner

    Hey Graham;

    Glad you like my ideas.

    This happens (non-response) rather often it seems :(


  • Terri Rylander

    Hi Mike,

    And I thought it was just me! Graham told my story like it was falling out of my mouth.

    I’m working with one client whom I provided two data sheets and a white paper to. Didn’t hear anything for nearly a month, so I decided to bill him. Fortunately, he did reply saying it was fine to bill him but he had a few changes (basically a rewrite!) that he wants done by the end next week so he can have these pieces for a tradeshow (the real motivator).

    So, to those slow responders, I say Bill ‘Em!


  • Daniel Mcgonagle

    Really great . Thanks for the tip, Mike!

  • Maria

    I like the short podcast format…! And, good tip.
    Here is my 2 cents on the issue. Many of us have been outside the corporate environment for a while, so we may forget the day-to-day pressures that most of our clients face.

    One of the best things for me was working in a big corporation before joining a PR agency and before starting my own business. We need to remember that the white paper or other deliverable that has been consuming 100+% of our time might only be 5% of their job – or less; perhaps it is one component of a major product launch they are managing. They outsourced it so that they can rely on someone else to take care of it – you can’t just toss it over the fence and then be offended that they are not responsive.

    I woud propose that when you deliver a written piece, you also proactivesly set up a date that you expect to receive edits by (3 days to a week later) or possibly a meeting/conference call to check in with them. (If they don’t have any feedback at that point, send the invoice.)


  • carrie

    Hi Michael, this is a timely podcast and you are right, people definitely have a way of disappearing, but what I find strange is that sometimes it is people who have made an effort to seek you out! I don’t get this at all. For example, one woman I was possibly going to have a project with had e-mailed me out of the blue weeks ago that we should speak, and disappeared again and is not answering my e mails or messages. So why bother e-mailing me? Another went so far as to e mail me about a meeting, and this did not reply to my last few e mails about when and who with?? Why bother inviting me then? I will try your approach with the “I’m concerned” tactic. One approach I have found does work is that if I got a contact through someone else originally and the contact is not responding, I go back to the original person, especially if they are higher on the food chain, to get them to respond…that seems to work!

  • Toddie Downs

    Hi Michael – I practically JUMPED on your podcast to listen to it, so pertinent it was to my practice. I have been wracking my brains trying to find a nice, non-passive-aggressive way to spur my clients to getting me some feedback without seeming like a stalker. Because I do recognize that these are busy people, and my project is merely a drop in the bucket to them. So I will forthwith start employing your approach, and if that doesn’t succeed, then the invoice will go out. Thanks for the great tip.

  • Graham Strong

    I’ve seen a couple of comments going along the lines of sending out the invoice for unanswered messages. I have two thoughts on this:

    (1) Is this really a good customer relations practice? For sure, if it drags on too long, you have to do *something*. But wouldn’t it be better to try every possible avenue before resorting to this?

    (2) If they are not responding regarding the project (which supposedly they care about), then are they going to respond to your invoice (which, I suspect, they don’t care nearly as much about…)? Perhaps this strategy would work for bigger companies, but even then they usually need someone to sign off on the invoice. Will this billing strategy be as effective as trying to track them down?

    I think that as has been pointed out here, 99% of the time clients are not trying to be malicious, are not “ignoring” you not to get rid of you, but because they are stressed with other things. Stressing them out more by telling them, in effect, that you are done trying to help them may not be the best approach, in my opinion.

    I think that in this provider/client relationship, unfortunately it is the provider (us) that has to provide more “give” than “take”.


  • Floyd Buenavente

    Very nice podcast! thank you very much!

  • Avoir duPois


    This is an excellent technique. I have used it occasionally in the past, but not as a conscious technique.

    Wouldn’t it be effective to follow-up with a ‘how can I help’ message? (And, ‘call on me for confidential support – I am here to help’ should give an additional opportunity to re-contact and, make it plain to them that you can be a more than just a contracted service.)

    I am inclined to use your ‘I’m concerned’ technique as a regular technique, now.

    This brings up a trend that will probably not stop for the foreseeable future.

    You wrote this blog entry in January, 2007. I think, we are slipping quickly into an economic depression, (actually, it began August, 2007.) People in stressful employment tend to focus on the immediate demands; the ‘ignore button’ is automatically pushed for any issue than the one in their face.

    We can imagine the trauma in corporate world employment, nowadays. Responsive clients may be more distressed than ever; worse, you may not have the same client contact every month for the duration of the project.

    Well, anyhoo. Enough blah-blah.

    Thanks for the post.