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bizwriterjohn
Community Member

Clients not paying for work | A different solution.

Hello,

Clients not paying for work: I have seen many value-add comments and commiserations on this forum. I will provide a different solution.

Train one's self in the tactics and strategies.  Google "The New Strategic Selling".  It is the bible, by parable, to those of us hailing from the professional sales sector.  The book was first published in 1988, it has stood the test of time for 30 years as the finest thought capital in the sector of learning.

Pages 82 to 114, in particular, discuss sales tactics of great importance.  There are other sections specifically related to qualifying clients.  Since a client who will not pay for work is by nature, a client who is not qualified to work with, then that means, the client was not correctly qualified as such.

In professional sales, as a co-body of expertise to any delivery expertise: poor client behavior is not attributed to the client.  It is attributed to the sales person as their personal failure.  Their personal failure.  And since we are all sales people first -- to win our work.  By proxy, clients who do not pay for their work are resultant from our short comings, not ours.

 

I relate this, so that those who choose to examine themselves, not react to this email messaging with rancor or ire, will head to Amazon, buy the book. Read it. Read it again.  Memorize it.  Practice its best practices. 

I have read the book. Read it again, and again, and again -- as I was trained in MH tactics in 1994-95.  25 years.  Perhaps.  Perhaps.  In 68 or so projects.  Those practices are the reason why I have never had a client 'not pay me'.  Never. Have I had a client not pay me.

You now know the finest body of knowledge of selling professionally.  Miller Heiman, The New Strategic Selling (Or its original copy, Strategic Selling works just as well).   30 years of history, expertise and best practices.  One Amazon click and 3 hours of reading away.

29 REPLIES 29
varungs
Community Member


John B wrote:

In professional sales, as a co-body of expertise to any delivery expertise: poor client behavior is not attributed to the client.  It is attributed to the sales person as their personal failure.  Their personal failure. 


I can't disagree more. It is certainly the freelancer's duty to please a client to the best of their ability and to a reasonable degree. However, your statement ignores a very basic axiom - crappy people exist. There will always be terrible clients, terrible people, cheapskates, malicious and toxic people who are looking to bring you down, and of course, people with mental disorders.

The mindset you're seeming to propagate is also quite discouraging. If a freelancer has a bad client experience and doesn't get paid, you're suggesting they should blame themselves? How is delegating blame and calling oneself a failure productive in any way? A freelancer should study what happened and learn from the shortcomings that manifested during the interaction. It's a process of learning and growth - not one of self-hatred. Not to mention the fact that most contract interactions that result in non-payment in the career of a reasonable, high-quality and productive freelancer will be the result of... a crappy client.

I can provide one response as it is real time and valuable.

 

Let me use a parable.  If one achieves the result of getting an ice cream cone with two scoops.  And within minutes, before the first bite returned the sweet taste:  the ice cream cone has its top scoop fall off. 

- A poor cone was purchased

- Or the cone was not handled correctly. 

I expose the theory:  get the right cone and hold it correctly.  Blaming the cone for its failure means, we have let the cone control us.

That is enough in argumentative dialog, now.

I expose the theory:  get the right cone and hold it correctly.  Blaming the cone for its failure means, we have let the cone control us.

 

I'm not quite sure I agree with the validity of your analogy, but I'll roll with it. The cone here is the client. You're saying that one should get "the right cone". Does that mean "wrong cones" exist? Which goes against your original proposition (that "the freelancer is always the one to be blamed"). You're contradicting yourself.

bizwriterjohn
Community Member

[Quick note on responses]
I do not set the *get email regarding responses*.  This is done for a reason, and not one of negative nature.  I have time to leave perspectives, but do not have time to participate in the downstream blog.  That particpation is not required though hoped for. Acknowledged.

I state that, so any who pose questions, will not have a direct response: this is not neglect.  My delivery queue is 110% full and 100% full in 1:1 mentorship.  That is fact, not boasting.  Thus said to explain this.  I have time to leave perspectives that share knowledge, but that comes at the cost of not being able to respond to thread questions that might reside in the threads-to-come.  I find this disappointing but must make sure it is known: that is not neglect of others willfully.

The New Strategic Selling: Page 392 will provide information assist in positioning deals to avoid no-pays. Perhaps it will help you.  Thank you for your time and polite responses, in advance.

Now to agree:  some clients are -- I will avoid the crude word used -- I chose the word 'Not viable as a client'.


Those conditions can occur.  However, as I related -- this is fact to state as supportive of dialog, and only that.  I know that is possible to pick NN clients in a row and not have the ice cream scoop fall off before I finish the entire experience. 

So perhaps my ending note is one of encouragement.  I am nothing special.  I have not great magic wand, I have no special designation, I have not overly-developed delivery skills in my category. So I state for those who wish to have an objective that is demonstrated as achievable.  It is possible to, apparently, have a N-year run, across NN projects without one no-pay.  Since I can do it, I am exactly sure anyone on this platform of quality and customer care can achieve this.  Anyone.

Since I can do it, I am exactly sure anyone on this platform of quality and customer care can achieve this.  Anyone.

 

Why is your profile private?

Let me restate the analogy.

The sales person sells the cone to a client.  We are responsible for the client consuming the cone and getting paid for it.  Perhaps the client is clumsy, does not wish to pay for the cone, decides the top scoop is not to their liking, let it melt before it is consumed.  Then come back and refuse to pay for the product.  The product is our services.  The cone is our delivery.

Driving this to pendantic, by possible assumption, but done to respond to the specific analogy.

If I personally hand a cone I had specifically made for the client and they refust to pay for it.  No, I will not blame the client.  I will blame myself.  I built a cone that fell apart or picked a client who could not consume it responsibly.  Either way, the problem is mine.  Bad cone or bad choice of client.

The book helps with both.  And it possible to achieve zero drops, zero no-pays.  I know this.  I ask no one to assume I am super special anyway.  Perhaps I just do it differently and perhaps that way works and perhaps there is a reason I know to do it that way.  Perhaps. 

Because I have not figured out how to set it public.   How do I set it public.  I will look around and see why.

If I personally hand a cone I had specifically made for the client and they refust to pay for it.  No, I will not blame the client.  I will blame myself.  I built a cone that fell apart or picked a client who could not consume it responsibly.

 

Let me get this straight - you reasonably expect yourself to be able to ascertain whether or not a potential client is able to hold an ice cream cone correctly before the transaction itself even happens? People in real life usually don't have skills like that.

We set a baseline expectation ("the average human being is capable of holding an ice cream cone") and build our business practices around that assumption. There are outliers, of course ("don't sell ice cream to toddlers or those with clear mental defects") but they usually aren't something we have to think about. Now, if a perfectly normal-looking person (ie. an innocent client who seems nice at the onset) purchases an ice cream cone and demands a refund because they are unable to hold it (ie. a client making unreasonable demands because of their own incompetence), do you really think the seller should blame themselves for that? Once again - a toxic and defeatist mindset that serves no real purpose.

Please stop shilling this book, by the way. You're doing more harm than good to its sales.

The $20k a estimate as "only" is correct.  Precision matters.   I took last year out, for example, for a project that was not on Upwork from a traditional, past employer, who asked me to work as an employee of sorts.  I asked them to go Upwork, it is external prospects/employers who have the choice, I was not happy about it, it is how it was.   Which is a lot of justification that is un-necessary anyway, other than to state: never, in 7 years, across work from past employers, on Upwork, on oDesk, before that on Elance before that in my consulting career -- ever.  Across what not totals more than x,xxx,xxx over a 25,000career has that happened.

 

-------------------

Yes, I am not a new contractor.  Which is exactly why I recommend those read the book I read when I was a new-comer in my time.

I also used this extraordinarly indepth time tracking sheet in my first project, to make sure my time was exactly related, in a tool that could be circulated in the company, and that actually returned the comment:  "We were thinking $2k budget, it is much more.  You can see my profile, my first job, you can see what it turned out to be".

Even as a new comer, first project, day one, 7 years ago about to the day.  I used tactics to enjoy my work was justified. 

This provided additional viewing of my time allocation.  It was my first extra helpful too, first day on Upwork (oDesk) back then.

 I also created an adjunct project delivery tracking sheet as I was engaged in delivering NN separate pieces of major IP, including the blend-in of another Upworker for Design and visual production.  My first 'bring in another Upworker so they share the wealth.  Got that one done project done. Happy about that.

This made sure clients could see the progress of NN projects run concurrently.  It again helped the client to "know what they are paying for".

This does not require experience to do or figure out.  These are basic tools anyone can implement and they have foundations in client care and concern -- and common sense.  If anyone has external to Upwork tools to help expand client knowledge of work delivered, expanded views into their work -- particularly those who are struggling with no-pays, now is a good time to share them. 

I charged for the time to conduct them.  You can see the result.

This is provided as part of my portfolio. It has client approval to be shared.  There is no breach of NDA here, Valeria. That is sacrosanct.

The tactic worked.  I got to write the results of combined effort 3 years later. I provide that simply so we see: these tools matter, these tools help, the stakes can be high, and successful management of the client might be a breakthrough for.... them.

 

This is published in my portfolio. This is not a breach of NDA nor 'bragging'.  This is my contribution. 

The PMI (Project Management Institute) provides a body of knoweldge called the PMBOK.  Project Manager's Book of Knowledge.  Google it: it can be found on Amazon.  I would perhaps consider Upworkers who are suffering from No-Pays, perhaps motivated to purchase this gold standard of project delivery best practices.

Read it.  Read it again.  Learn to use it. Use it.  And bring in not only Professional Sales tactics -- bring in Professional Delivery tactics, from the master-class source.

 

 

Since I am consistenly challenged by specific Upworkers on veractity and viability of my information, I must relate: the figure of $x,xxx,xxx in sales-delivery is actually $12,000,000 plus Upwork.  The 12-mil part came from my work in the 1990s, Upwork did not exist, I led sales in a 600-person IT consulting firm, we obviously delivered 12-mil projects and that is not bragging.  Someone simply said, only $20k a year.  That is all I need, as you can imagine the downstreams of selling 12mil a year for delivery teams on commission.
I do not keep my pay stubs for that work.

So yes, in a way, you are right.  I brought in massive industry expertise in forming deals, positioning clients, making sure we had no-pays.  Approximately 50:1 in size.  That is not bragging, that is to address the concern my experience base is only $20k a year.  It is $40k actually, plus outside wor3k but anyway, I need not justify reality. It is that.

Yes, I had/have the advantage of industry training, in rate x hours and fixed-fee consulting work.  I have provided advice:
Gain the knowledge of two books.  That is where I started

Strategic Selling by Miller Heiman
PMBOK by PMI.

Here's the harsh part: I was let know where near deal formation until I was trained for 3 months, full time, by mentors.  Mentors.  Trained by mentors.  We have covered this topic, yes?  And my adherence to it as best practice on either side.  Mentoree (I love misspelling that word now).
- Boomer (as is my beloved nickname now).

John B, 

 

What you earn per year is not your only challenge. 

 


John B wrote:

Since I am consistenly challenged by specific Upworkers on veractity and viability of my information, I must relate: the figure of $x,xxx,xxx in sales-delivery is actually $12,000,000 plus Upwork.  The 12-mil part came from my work in the 1990s, Upwork did not exist, I led sales in a 600-person IT consulting firm, we obviously delivered 12-mil projects and that is not bragging.  Someone simply said, only $20k a year. 


I know I've been pretty hard on you, but now you have my sympathy. I'm sure it's tough to be reduced from that level of success in youth to being reduced to working for mediocre hourly rates through a freelancing platform in middle age. I have a much better understanding of your need to puff up your reputation now.

- Yes I reasonably expect a client to pay for work, from Hour One of agreed-to work -

If I have chosen a viable client.  If I have correctly defined and positioned the work.  If my delivery work is true-and-well useful, and if I provide sufficient justification that true-and-real work was delivered.

When those conditions are met, chance are good 100% of clients will pay.  Notice there are four caveats before I set expections they will pay.
- I have chosen a viable client.  Not them chosen me and I automatically say yes.

Question.  Has anyone turned down work before an offer was even made, because in early discussions -- knowing an offer was likely to be made --  when it became likely I was dealing with a squirrely potential client.  Career lifetime?  Turned down work.   I will spare the metrics of my average "walk-away" rate once I bump up against probable issuance of acceptance. 

Upwork would approve.  If a contractor sense unviable client, what they want is pristine work and they most probably would extend a trust factor.  The potential client will have back-up providers, they are likely to lose no revenue and Upwork values contractors who protect their JSS, as a top JSS is what they want us to protect before and after deal-sign.

Questions to ponder:  if a client exhibits signs of non-viable.  How do you sense it?  Do you have criteria they must meet?  Do you have frank discussions to ensure delivery is known,  What are your tactics, how do you ensure a no-pay never happens again, in qualification steps.  A list is good to have.  Depending solely on their past hiring history is not always useful.

Here is another tactic to use - and be aware of.  I have never done this before.  And an Upworker pointed out I have had only 12 hires -- which is minimal.  Comical, as that Upworker has made zero hires, let's bypass how ridiculous it is to call that out.  It is just meaness in my opinion.  That realted.

Clients have two ways to leave ratings. Those we see, those we do not. Both impact our JSS.  SOme clients -- I have never done this -- chose to leave 5-0s because they do not want to be seen as issuing lessing.  That hurts them in their version of JSS.  Behind the scenes they can skewer contractors with ratings we do not see.

HEre's the impact.  Do you look at the ratings clients have issued first, or the return ratings Upworkers issued.  It commonly makes an Upworker look not very good to issue a low client rating, having gotten a 5-0.  We know the search is for 5-0 and probably consider low ratings from contractors a sign of their inability to get along.

So words to the wise.  Ratings issued is not a talisman to count on.  Ratings received -- well gosh.  Are you a better contractor that the one who could not get along.


John B wrote:

say yes.

Question.  Has anyone turned down work before an offer was even made, because in early discussions -- knowing an offer was likely to be made --  when it became likely I was dealing with a squirrely potential client.  Career lifetime?  Turned down work.   I will spare the metrics of my average "walk-away" rate once I bump up against probable issuance of acceptance. 

 

Of course, all the time--as I'm sure do all established freelancers. Not just because clients are squirrely, but because it seems to me that our work styles won't mesh, because I just don't like them, because I'm temporarily burned out on writing that type of content, because I think it would be silly for them to pay my rates when they don't need my full skill set and I can refer them to someone who will do a great job for them at half the price and so on, and so on, and so on. 


John B wrote:

[Quick note on responses]
I do not set the *get email regarding responses*.  This is done for a reason, and not one of negative nature.  I have time to leave perspectives, but do not have time to participate in the downstream blog.  That particpation is not required though hoped for. Acknowledged.


In other words, you have no intention of using the community discussion forums as community discussion forums, but instead are using them as your personal blog, bestowing wisdom from on high. In most of the forums I participate in, that's known as "spam."

I consider it sharing knowledge.

As you know, I participate in this Forum 1x a year, through holidays, which end in 3 hours.

I have to date shared this knowledge:
- Best practices book on Strategic Selling.

- Best practices book on Project Management.

- Pictures of two tools I have used to create success.

- Information on what clients may do in issuing ratings.

 

Recommendations contractors look inwards when low ratings.  That is unique on this Forum.  Along with adoping two new-commers, with now 10 hours of time invested beyond this blog.

How much I make does not matter, actually.  I can afford to make $20k a year, $30k a $40k a year, and live in middle-class ways.  I do not wish to get personal but you in essence asked.  Were I run my business up to 80% utlization, that would be  80% x 2000 hours =s 1600 hours = that time about call it $50 an hour =s $80k.  I don't want to work that hard.  I like walking my doggie and I have paid that price in the past.

It is unfair in a way, yes, I bring in massive pre-Upwork experience.  One would think with that, folks would 'hang on my every word' during this short sting on the Forum.

Let me address something a bit personal.   I congratulation Mr. Mark F on his contributions but were we counting the metric of personal blog:  1051 (value-add) posts which is a gifting of time.  Most surely counts as a personally-focused blog contribution.  That is approximately 1051 / 30 or 30x my contribution.  I contest using this as my personal blog concept in that metric.  I congratulate Mr. Mark F for his contribution however.  IT sets a standard.

This is information and experience sharing for the last 3 hours I have time to do so this.  Year.  This year.


John B wrote:



As you know, I participate in this Forum 1x a year, through holidays, which end in 3 hours.


How on earth would anyone know that? Are you thinking that we read every 2,750 word post you make with bated breath and commit it to memory?

I also made use of the Forum to locate my two 2020 mentorees and recently observed a post from 2015, including one not particularly nice from one of these forum participants, regarding a strategy problem.  2014, wow, long record of not particularly helpful or nice responses.  That's another form of personal use.

Plus I can type at 120 words a minute, this is all natural knowledge to me, and I can contribute only so much to Forum users.  I will be back end of year.

I think now is a good time to continue my tradition of 1x a year contribution.  Enough perceptions and recommendations have been made.

Strategic Selling
PMBOK

Create adjunct tools to expand on Upwork excellent delivery tracking systems
Consider it first a potential failure personally in no-pay
Adopt a new comer in the ways most meaningful
And have a nice year.

**edited for Community Guidelines** I think every single bit of anecdotal evidence and claims of accreditation that you have presented in this thread should be taken with several bags of salt.

varungs
Community Member

**edited for Community Guidelines**

Your profile is actually very impressive. I suspect you haven't had the average freelancer experience in quite a while (dealing with low-paying clients who try to overwork you), since you charge high rates and you're established in your field. 

In fact, your advice may actually be worthwhile for a very small subset of people, including yourself. You have a JSS of 100%, which means your work tends to be excellent and your clients tend to be happy. I can see why you think that a bad client review is always a reflection of your work, because your work is probably usually very good. However, there is a little bit of survivorship bias in this situation. Most of the clients you will encouter have fat enough wallets to pay well for good work, and they don't try to screw you over like a cheapskate client would. Essentially, all of your clients are "good" clients, and aren't of the variety I outlined in a previous reply. For most of us, we come across bad clients on a weekly if not daily basis, and blaming ourselves for such people is a suboptimal solution.

lysis10
Community Member

He only averages $20k/year on the platform. When you make such a low amount on the site, you will run into fewer problems. When you sell a lot of contracts and generate more revenue on the site, you will run across more problems obviously because you have more projects going on and run into brand new clients more often.

 

The guy doesn't really tell the truth in anything he posts, so engaging is just feeding the fairy tales.

aocumen
Community Manager
Community Manager

Everyone, I have removed some posts on this thread as it violated our Community Guidelines. These guidelines are in place to foster a healthy discussion among community members. We encourage our Community members to be professional and respectful to one another when posting here. Please, be mindful of the Community Guidelines when posting, or replying to a thread. We want to keep these forums a place where mutual respect and constructive conversation is taking place.

 

John, as per your question about setting your profile's visibility to public, you may follow the steps in this help articleI appreciate that you take the time to share tips on how freelancers can improve their freelancing business. As a gentle reminder, please know that the Community forums are a place where freelancers and clients can ask and answer questions, search topics, learn, socialize and get updates about Upwork. Let me know if you have other questions.


~ Avery
Upwork

It is unusual to come across a thread that is clearly generating high interest and that nevertheless features one particular poster whose point of view (posts) has (have) attracted a sum total of zero kudos.


Janean L wrote:

It is unusual to come across a thread that is clearly generating high interest and that nevertheless features one particular poster whose point of view (posts) has (have) attracted a sum total of zero kudos.


the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes?

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