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6. You habitually let certain clients go to voicemail. It’s happened to everyone: When you see that name flash on your phone’s caller ID, you slowly pull your hand back from the receiver and let the ringing continue. You just don’t want to deal with the drama, or the whining, or the accusations, or the belligerence just now. Yes, we all have “problem” clients. But to avoid them or just go through the motions for them is a mistake. They will notice and remember your behavior. (And be honest: Would you want to give your business to someone who might write you off when the going got tough?)

Clients First means all clients,” Callaway insists. “In over fourteen years, my wife and I have never gotten rid of a single client—even when we secretly wished we could—and we believe this no-fire strategy has contributed significantly to our ultimate success. Here’s the payoff: When you make the choice to stand by all of your frazzled, frustrated customers, you will eventually reap financial and personal rewards.””

7. You find yourself telling white lies. Telling clients white lies, or exaggerating, misdirecting, or omitting, might make life easier temporarily. It’s easy to justify such behavior (She’ll never know, and it’ll save me hours of work, for example). But Callaway says these “little” lies are as bad as the whoppers. There is always a chance that customers will see through you and call you on the carpet. Even if they don’t, a willingness to play fast and loose with the truth suggests a broader attitude that relegates clients to second or third priority. (In return, that’s usually how they’ll rate you.)

“Honesty can be tough in the moment, but a reputation for trustworthiness—or untrustworthiness!—can stick with you for life,” says Callaway. “Live by a policy of never holding back or sugarcoating and you’ll gain loyalty that money can’t buy. Plus, when you have only the truth, you don’t have to worry about getting the story straight or remembering what you have and haven’t shared. You know you’re doing the right thing.”

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