My dear friend and client Peter Radizeski, (a.k.a. The Marketing Idea Guy) recently blogged about a situation he had with a client that caused him to fire, yes, fire the client. You can read about it here.
Does this concept sound strange to you, taboo or a normal and essential part of your business philosophy?
I remember dealing with these issues in one of the companies I’ve owned years ago; a design build firm for high end remodeling. Before I changed my philosophy around this, we believed that EVERYONE should and could be one of our clients. And we worked hard to earn the business of every prospect that we had the opportunity to be positioned in front of.
Inevitably, the clients who beat us up on price, the clients who made us bend over backwards like a skilled contortionist and jump through the most hoops, the clients who we had to tweak policy and procedures for in order to make it work better for them, the client’s who cut our profit margins down to practically nothing; these were always the ones who were the most difficult, who were always asking for more, who were really never truly appreciative of the additional efforts we’ve put in, who we could never truly make happy and always had a compliant, who exhausted most of our resources, who had the most problems and who were always the hardest project to finish. Bottom line, these very clients were the ones who we made the least amount of profit on and generated the most amount of headaches. It’s these clients who actually cost us more in the long run than any potential gain we may think we’ve scraped up to justify the painful situation that we decided to put ourselves in.
For this reason alone, everyone, as much to your dismay, is not meant to be one of your clients. And I’m not only referring to whether or not they are a fit for you. That is, maybe they are a great candidate for your product or service and maybe, around these parameters, they are a good match and someone who could benefit from your services.
But there’s more to identifying what you consider to be an ideal client. Think about the criteria you use to identify your ideal client. Whether selling to the end consumer or b2b, it goes beyond the more obvious criteria of company size, number of employees, volume of company, industry, profession, available budget and if in fact there’s even a need.
What about the softer attributes or characteristics that focus more on their humanity, as a human being, a person? While we may feel there’s a great fit, do we ask ourselves if we truly want that person as a client? I’m talking about who they are and not just evaluate them by what they do, their position or decision making power or what matrix we can plug them in. For example, as an executive sales coach, my ideal client encapsulates the following characteristics: