How to Deal With a Scrooge Client

If a Scrooge client is scaring the dickens out of you, don’t let it spoil your holiday season. A visit from the Spirit of Business Past, the Spirit of Business Present, and the Spirit of Business Future will make even the sourest customer as sweet as Tiny Tim.

The Spirit of Business Past

Scrooge clients have short memories. Pay them a holiday visit and review all of the ways you have helped them save money, become more efficient, increase their sales, avert a crisis, and whatever else had a meaningful impact.

It takes more than a casual visit. The more visual and vivid your presentation is, the greater its effect — recall how the cold heart of Ebenezer Scrooge began to thaw when he saw and felt and heard his former self. Do you think the Spirit of Christmas Past would have elicited the same response by showing Ebenezer a PowerPoint crammed with wordy bullet points?

The Spirit of Business Present

The holiday season is a time of joy — do you remember what a merry old soul the Spirit of Christmas Present was? A small thing such as taking your Scrooge client to lunch or meeting him for an after-work cocktail can change everything. Simply getting your Scrooge away from that damp, cold, and dreary office will make his mood more festive and his business more secure.

Along with a dollop of holiday cheer, offer your Scrooge a business-present present: a gift, a December discount, or extra rewards points — something that answers the question, “What have you done for me lately?” Nothing makes a Scrooge client more Scrooge-like than the feeling of being taken for granted.

The Spirit of Business Future

The outlook for a Scrooge client is grim indeed; you cannot help but feel that it’s only a matter of time before his business is buried in the graveyard of lost opportunities. But as the Spirit of Christmas Future revealed to Ebenezer, the future can be changed!

Give your Scrooge scenario a hopeful future by introducing incentives that reward his future business. Annual rebates, volume discounts, and loyalty rewards programs make it easier — far easier — for your Scrooge to overlook the day-to-day hiccups that occur in any business relationship. Just as the goal of curing Tiny Tim gave Ebenezer a reason to live well, a goal of getting more “something” gives clients a reason to do business.

Most businesses routinely do these activities, which require only a modest effort and investment. The plot twist here is to do them all in equal measure.

Focusing on the past alone, or the present alone, or the future alone is not enough. If only one or two spirits had visited Ebenezer that Christmas Eve, the story would have been quite different; he would not have been redeemed.

By demonstrating past value, present value, and future value, your Scrooge clients will be reclaimed. For you, and them, it will be a very merry holiday season indeed.

   “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!” – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol


Brad Shorr is Director of B2B Marketing for Straight North, an Internet marketing agency in the Chicago area. With in-house, freelance and agency experience, he writes frequently about content marketing, SEO, social media and small business strategy.

More from