Are you crazy—Fire my client?

When is it the right time to fire your client? Most of your sales force will respond, incredulously, “Are you crazy? Fire my client?”

Take One for the Team

I remember the days when I had to bend over backwards or suck it up to some clients who made my life miserable. I often asked myself, “Why am I doing this?”

Of course, it was for the almighty desire for money—the sale or whatever you want to call it. Regardless, at the end of the day I knew that I spent 80% of my time with the worst customers of all time. As a matter of fact, we were making the bulk of our money from the other 20% of the clients—clients we actually enjoyed working with and likewise, the client usually felt the same. So what drives one to continue working with the group of clients that have a tendency to make your life unhappy?

Why Fire the Client?

When a client’s habits or demands pass the point of being occasionally irritating to interfering with your potential for wealth and health, it’s time to cut them loose. Life is far too short to have to bow to their unrealistic demands.

I often told our sales reps that they needed to stop wasting their time; they needed to smile and dial to find a new client that wanted help and would be willing to partner and share information that would help both parties. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

Your Client Did What?

Let me ask a few quick questions:

Have you ever had a client that lies to you?
Have you ever had a client threaten you?
Have you ever had a client play you off against the competition?
Have you ever had a client that says they will give you an exclusive agreement, only to find out they are still going to everyone else?
Have you ever had a client that is always slow to pay, and when they do pay they want additional discounts?  

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions you just might need to fire that client.

Believe it or not, there are clients who value their vendors and treat them as they wish to be treated.

Why Don’t We?

So why don’t we just fire them? It’s normally referred to as internal accountability. It starts in our sales department, where by the way we can sometimes find our biggest prima donnas. Here is one of the key detectors: “But boss, my client is telling me they are getting ready for some big plans and that will means big bucks for us!”

Count Your Orders

What do we need to do to grow our business? Some will say you need to have orders, but this term depends on your business.

In a service business, orders do not equal revenue. It’s more of a fantasy number in a sales rep’s head. For example, during the weekly review in my previous recruiting business, the sales rep might say he has 1.1 million in pending orders and they are going unfilled.

The normal person would say, “This is great! What do we need to do to fill these orders?”

On the other hand, I would say, “Let’s break these down by client and take a deep dive into the history of that client.” What we might find out is that that the bulk of the client’s orders have been on the books for over 90 days, and that equates to “show” orders rather than “real” orders. This means the client is basically fishing and not serious about buying.

Remember, a seasoned salesman can get orders to fill a book—it’s as simple as that. Is that what your business really needs, or do you need orders that are fillable?

Only You Can Answer the Question

Some of you reading this will agree with me and others will believe that I have lost my way. I am a firm believer that that every company needs to review their accounts and peel off the non-money makers; get the sales team engaged in identifying new business.

I would rather spend my time working with the right customers then beating my head against the wall, trying to meet the out of reach expectations of difficult customers. What do you think? Only you can answer that question.

What is your take? Let me know what you think in the comments below.