Customers are revenue. The more the merrier. Right?
If you don’t care if your business is just another competitor in a crowded field, then sure, more customers should be your ultimate goal.
The other side of that equation is fewer customers but better customers. Better customers make your business better in the long run. There are a variety of reasons why better customers trump more customers.
Better customers understand your value and are willing to work with you. A good customer doesn’t look at you as an adversary that they need to hold at arms-length and with an attitude of always having the upper hand over you. Because better customers look at you the vendor, as an equal, your relationship together is much more friendly and consultative in nature. Interactions are rarely strained or combative and by extension allow you to get to know your customer outside of the business transactions you conduct.
We would all like to have “better customers” all the time if given the opportunity. Many times it doesn’t work out that way even if we felt like it would going into the initial relationship. So, what can you do about it?
If you feel like the relationship you have with a customer is not what you envisioned going in, then there should come a point at which you must address those concerns. Do that with an honest but non-combative conversation. Suggest to your customer that maybe you are not the right fit for his or her business. This way you won’t be putting your customer on the defensive. It’s likely that your customer wouldn’t have seen this conversation coming and thus will also allow them to realize that perhaps some of the issue is due to their actions. They may take responsibility for those actions and work to make the relationship what it should have been from the start.
Something to consider in this situation is that you may be underestimating the value of what you or your company bring to the table and that the customer may think that losing that value is too much of a risk for them to take. Even if you don’t learn that specifically, within that conversation you are likely to learn from your customer how to handle them or their business in a way that makes the relationship stronger after all.
In the end, if things don’t come to a satisfactory conclusion for you, you can always tell your customer that “It’s only a good deal when it’s fair to both sides”, and end your agreement. It sounds harsh and counter-intuitive in a sales capacity to intentionally lose a customer, but you and your company will be better off in the long run as you can put more productive time and effort into your existing “good” customers and leave behind the angst and dread of dealing with bad customers.
I have actually had competitors call me to tell me about situations they’re having now, with my former client, that were the same situations I had had with that former client. That’s when I knew that any indecision about letting that former client go was now vindicated knowing that it wasn’t anything that I had done wrong, but that it was a bad customer all along.
It may hurt in the short-run to lose that revenue but this one business situation may fit into the money-can’t-buy-happiness category.
Do you have a bad customer story to share? Tell us about it below.