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Tony Banta

WTSW – “Can you make an exception?” – Ep. 26
Full Show Notes

What do you say when a client says “can you make an exception?”?


Well maybe. But the answer is usually no. Why? Because the mere fact that a client is asking for an exception to be made is a really good indicator that they are pushing back against the system. In this episode of What To Say Wednesday, Tony digs into how you deal with this question and we even share some useful tools if you do decide to treat your client as an exception to the rule. 

Production for this episode is made possible by The Client Success System® For more information on the client fulfillment audits and to speak to one of our consultants, go to

Show Resources:

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  • Access the complete transcript.

It’s What to Say Wednesday and today we’re answering the question of what you say when a client asks, “Can you make me an exception?” Stay tuned.

Welcome to The Client Whisperer™ Show. I’m your host Tony Banta and I am the client whisperer. I’ve spent over a decade running multiple six- and seven-figure client businesses and I’ve learned that the secret to success in a client business comes down to one thing: leadership. Bad client behavior is the enemy and with the right curriculum, infrastructure, and mindset, you can lead your clients to great success and scale your business the easy way.

“No!” There. Shortest episode ever. “No! Bye. Next.” Why am I so quick to answer this? Exceptions are valuable. Exceptions are super valuable to be able to do with clients at the right times. They are.

We almost always have one or two exceptions at some point in time in our client base. The trouble with exceptions are twofold and we’ve talked a little bit about this over the course of the last few weeks. We’ve had an episode here or there on this and we have another, more in-depth episode on this next week because exceptions are really dangerous when they’re not checked.

But the other reason is, when a client is asking to be an exception, that’s a warning sign. And that’s a warning sign because that shows that they’re intentionally saying, “I don’t want to be part of the standard process,” and that requires some more conversation. Now, you will get a small percentage of clients who are self-aware enough to be asking this question and are asking because they understand what the consequences of that may be. So it’s a legitimate question and those kinds of people are going to come to you with a ton of respect. They’re going to come to you with respect for the process, they’re going to come to you with with really valid and thoughtful reasons, having studied your process and having tried some of those things in working through your process or in their own business before they even got to you, and they’re legitimately working with you in a way to problem-solve, to make the result great.

But that’s going to be the very small minority of clients. The vast majority of people who ask for an exception like this are doing it because they don’t want to follow the process, and we call this ‘bucking the system’. Bucking the system is okay. It’s actually a critical part of the journey that clients need to go any kind of transformational endeavor and if you’re wondering whether your offer has a transformational component, if you’re charging thousands of dollars and if you’re asking clients to do something differently than they’ve done before, then it is, absolutely, having a transformational component in their life or in their business.

And whenever there’s a transformational component, there will be a significant, actually, percentage of clients – we’re talking solid double digits of clients – percentages of clients who will try to buck the system and that’s normal and it’s healthy to some extent. They’re not bucking the system ’cause they’re bad clients. They’re bucking the system because they’re coming head-to-head with their ego and they’re interpreting what that means as it relates to the process that you’ve outlined in front of them. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: your process is not the only missing piece to your clients’ success. It’s also everything else around them that they’re stuck with, that they’re living through, and this is where you need to come into the conversation when they ask you, “Can you make an exception?”

First of all, I don’t mean ‘can you make an exception’ in a small way like, “Hey, I know that you usually only do calls on these days, but can you make a one-time exception this week,” or something like that. That’s a different level of question. That’s not what I mean here.

I mean, “Can you treat me differently than you treat your other clients?” Ding, ding, ding warning, sign, warning sign, wee-oo, wee-oo. “No, we can’t treat you differently, and we can’t treat you differently unless we really know you’re different.” That needs to be your answer. You can get there by asking them what they mean, by peeling back the layers, by finding a little bit more information about why they’re really asking, and that’s a really good thing to do. We talk about that in almost every What to Say Wednesday, it’s still a really good thing to do because you want to get a little bit of the data from them. You want to get some facts from them so that you know how to actually help them through the process when you tell them that you’re really not going to make an exception.

But the other component that’s at play is, you need to hold the boundary that says, “We don’t just make exceptions just because you want something differently. We need to really understand that you are a different client and serve you at that level.”

So to help you with this, if you have a client where you’ve decided that you actually do want to make them an exception and that you know that they are different, we’ve actually created a worksheet for you so that you can manage that client exception and make sure that that exception doesn’t go crazy. And we’ve talked about the downsides of this before. We don’t want it to be a runaway exception. So check out the link – We’ve made a little worksheet there for you. You can grab that. And we actually also have a video that explains a little bit about how we want you to use that, how we suggest you use that in your business to prevent things from going badly and to make sure that the client is still getting results without the whole relationship going off track.

This has been What to Say Wednesday, thank you so much for tuning in. I will see you next week. Bye.

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