Getting Divorced Or How I Learned That Some Clients Just Aren’t Worth It

December 7, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Customer Service, entrepreneurship, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Sales Training, small business | 1 Comment

When I launched my business 23 years ago it seemed like any client was a good client or maybe even a desired client or, at least, a name to help flesh out my very thin roster of business.

Over the years my philosophy has changed and I no longer think that all clients are desired and, in fact, recognize that in some cases I am far better off getting divorced.

Divorcing a client can be painful. Oh, not as painful as divorcing a spouse but painful nonetheless. And just like divorcing a spouse can leave you in a certain amount of financial turmoil, so can shedding a client, even when you know that it is for the best in the long run.

So how do you recognize when you should (must?) divorce a client. There are several key indicators and these are:

–There is no longer a match between what the client wants/needs and what you can/will provide.
–The client is asking you to do something that is unethical. Conversely, the client themselves is doing something that is unethical.
–The client is being unreasonable in terms of their demands and despite your best attempts to negotiate and reach an understanding, they are unwilling to budge. (note: these clients usually take up a significant amount of time and your ROT {return on time} is rarely what you deserve)
–The client treats you or your staff in an abusive manner.

Clearly, no one likes to get divorced and it is in your best interests to try and retain the relationship and stay married. Still if nothing you’ve done has seemed to work, it just might be in your best interest to sever ties.

So how do you divorce a client with the minimal amount of acrimony:

–No matter how negatively you might feel you must maintain a professional demeanor. When you tell your client about your decision you don’t want to burn your bridges or make enemies.
–Don’t leave a client in the lurch. Attempt to find a replacement for the services that you provide and help to make a smooth transition.
–Give your client ample warning to make the necessary adjustments.
–Leave the door open. You never know how, if or when the situation will change
–Make certain that you have adequate business to fill the revenue gap that is precipitated by the divorce. Take steps to fill the gap BEFORE the divorce.

And, of course, make certain to explore all of the options and ask yourself if you have done everything that you could do to salvage the relationship. But, once you know it’s time to go, be strong, be confident and be ready to do the deed.


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  1. Very insightful post. Being a young business owner I can really relate to the “any client is a good client” perspective when in fact it just isn’t true. My business is focused on helping entrepreneurs and businesses clear their plate of the things that steal their time and focus so your post spoke right to me and what my business does. Great post!

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