When you first connect with a client, it’s natural to be agreeable in order to build rapport with them. You’re going to be working closely with them for a while, and you need to earn their trust as well as their confidence. Especially when you’re working with a high paying client. Being too agreeable, however, can be detrimental to the project.
During the first phase of any web project, clients often make requests that go against best practices. Some requests even go against the client’s own goals. However, clients don’t always know this. They’re relying on you to produce a final result that meets their requirements, and you need to tell them when their requests will work against them.
One of the most common requests clients make is for adding too many unnecessary plugins to their WordPress site. Most clients see plugins as a harmless way to add cool features to their website. They don’t always know plugins come with security risks, and having too many of them will slow down their website’s performance.
Understand your client’s perception might be misguided
Keeping the client’s perception of plugins in mind, it’s no wonder they don’t want to pay $3,000 for a core customization or a script created from scratch. In the client’s mind, there’s already a plugin for everything, and most plugins are free. Why should they pay?
The truth is, plugins are a wonderful way to add functionality to a WordPress site, when used in moderation, and when they’re regularly updated. For instance, these WordPress plugins are extremely useful and are regularly updated. Caching a WordPress website makes it load dynamic pages faster; XML sitemaps are essential for communicating with search engine spiders, and automatically fending off spam comments is vital for every blogger.
However, clients don’t usually know the difference between a rockstar plugin like Akismet, and a flash-in-the-pan plugin being sold on the Warrior Forum as a WSO.
Get in your client’s world and speak to them from their perspective
If you’re going to help a client understand why customization is the best solution, you’ve got to get in their world and address them from within their perspective before you can explain further. This means speaking to them as if there’s a possibility that you’ll install the excessive amount of plugins they’ve requested. You have to get into their world in order to skillfully guide them out of their misperceptions.
For example, don’t try to tell them all the technical reasons a large number of plugins will be bad for their website. If you try to tell them it will make their website slow, they’ll point you to another website using a bunch of plugins they think loads fast. If you tell them ten plugins are a security risk, if they’ve never been hacked, they’ll think it can’t happen to them.
Despite our best efforts, facts don’t always change people’s minds. The New Yorker published an article that explains this phenomenon in-depth. If your client has no technical background, you’re not going to win with technical logic. It will only seem like a theory to them. You need to be specific.
Show your client how their request won’t work
If your client requests a hoard of plugins, from the get-go, you need to show them exactly how their requested plugins won’t accomplish their goals. Drop the conversation about website performance and outdated security holes. They won’t hear you.
Instead of discussing the plugins, the first thing you want to do is redirect the client to have an in-depth conversation about their ultimate goals. Find out exactly what features they want in as much detail as possible. Don’t let them tell you about what they think the plugins will do for them. Get them to tell you what they actually want.
Once you’ve established what they want, let them know you’re going to look at each plugin to find out if it will fit their needs. Even if you know the plugins like the back of your hand, you need to convince the client you’re looking out for their needs. If they’re going to trust you, they need to have the experience of you doing in-depth research on their behalf.
When you research the plugins, look for bugs, conflicts, and problems to document for the client. Once you’ve generated a list of what’s wrong with the plugins, document why a customization won’t have those problems. This document will be your reference point to sell your client on a customization. Not because you want to make more money, but because it’s what’s right for the project.
The biggest secret to getting through to clients is to get them to trust your judgment. Once you accomplish that, you can talk a client out of any bad decision.