How to Handle Clients That are Out of Scope

Posted by Ryan Howard on Jun 22, 2023 11:24:39 AM

How to Handle Clients That are Out of Scope

When it comes to dealing with B2B clients, it's important to approach any potentially negative situation with a proactive mindset. When you understand why clients may ask for more than your agreement, you can better anticipate and prepare for potential roadblocks.  Whether it's negotiating with clients to find a mutually beneficial solution or knowing when it's time to end the relationship, there are strategies you can use to ensure a successful project outcome.

With these tips in mind, you can confidently handle clients that are out-of-scope.


What is an Out of Scope Client?

A client goes "out-of-scope" when they request services or products that fall outside the agreed-upon scope of work. This could be due to a change in project requirements, miscommunication, or a misunderstanding of the initial agreement. As a result, the client burns up more time or costs than originally planned. It's important to identify out-of-scope clients early on and address any potential issues to continue with a positive working relationship.

Set Expectations First

The importance of outlining project scope cannot be overstated when dealing with clients that ask for too much. It's crucial to set clear expectations from the outset to avoid future misunderstandings and miscommunications. Some of the expectations to define include:

  • Scope of work
  • Project timelines
  • Deliverables
  • Payment terms

With these early discussions, you can ensure that both you and the client are on the same page and that there are no unexpected requests that fall outside the agreement. This also helps to establish trust and credibility, which is important for maintaining a positive working relationship. 

Should You Take Your Case To Court?

How to Negotiate with Out-of-Scope Clients

Negotiation is an important skill when dealing with clients, whether you're handling unplanned project requests or late payments.  First of all, it's important to approach the situation with a willingness to listen. Take time to understand your client's perspective and try to find common ground. Perhaps it's time to explore solutions and get creative to meet the client's requests while staying within the agreed-upon scope.

Document Everything

As with any business partnership or working relationship, it's essential to keep records of all negotiation discussions and agreements.  Clear and concise documentation can ensure that both parties understand their roles and responsibilities. These documents can also provide legal protection in case of any disputes or disagreements. It's always better to be safe than sorry, and documentation can save time, money, and headaches in the long run.

Know When to Walk Away

Sometimes it's simply time to walk away from a client that doesn't respect your boundaries. Some red flags would include the following:

  • If your client frequently requests additional services or products that fall outside the agreed-upon scope
  • If your client is unresponsive or unwilling to have a discussion about their demands
  • If your client repeatedly misses deadlines or doesn't follow through on their part of the agreement

Ultimately, if you find that your business relationship is no longer productive or beneficial for either party, it may be time to consider ending it. However, it's important to do so gracefully and professionally without burning bridges or damaging your reputation. By maintaining open lines of communication and offering alternative solutions or referrals, you can end the relationship on a positive note and preserve your professional integrity.


Topics: Best Practices, Business relationships