“Fire That Customer”

If you have to “fire” a customer, chances are, you played fast and loose with the customer acquisition process. Don’t get me wrong, occasionally businesses change, people change and there is a valid business reason to cut ties. It happens.

Most of the time however, if you are being honest with yourself, you probably shouldn’t have taken on that customer to begin with. So why do you do it to yourself? Let me know if any of these sound familiar:

  • They’re so big, it will do wonders for our numbers. Volume, Volume, Volume Baby!
  • They’re unhappy with our competitor and I know if we “steal” this customer, it will hurt that competitor real bad. Take THAT, You Evil Competitor!!!!
  • I need to hit my sales budget, and I need a “win”. I’ll Do Anything for a Sale, Please, Please, Please!
  • I know I can land this prospect if I can lure them in with a great deal upfront. I’ll make it up later by raising their price. They’ll completely understand, they’re business people too, Right?!?
  • Everyone else in the market does “this”, I’ll tell the customer we can do it too. When they “sign on the line”, I’ll negotiate a higher price for “this” or tell them we can’t do it.

There are others, but these are the top 5. Also, in the majority of cases it’s a combination of some or all.

So what does this all mean? Of course, if you’re in a “unhealthy” relationship. Get Out, and FAST! Beyond that, though, here are a few items to consider as you attempt to acquire new business in the future. Ask yourself:

  • Are this prospect’s core values as a business, aligned with our core values?
  • Is this prospect using my “needs” against me? If so, do I think their behavior will change on the next order?
  • What is the reason my competitor wants to “let this customer go” and should that be a bellwether?
  • How needy is this prospect? Will our time and effort be worth the profit gained?
  • How difficult has this prospect been to work with during the sales process? Chances are, it’s not going to change.
  • Are they asking me to do something I’m not comfortable doing?
  • After our meetings, I feel like I just left the battle ground of world war III?

There’s no hard / fast rule regarding customer acquisition. If you’ve thought it through, you’re honest with yourself, and you think it’s a good fit, then make the deal. If you have ANY hesitation, chances are, it’s a bad call. If it is, price yourself out of contention and spend your time acquiring someone else.


1 thought on ““Fire That Customer”

  1. Matt Hardinger

    Great post. This calls to action that we should always be prospecting in order to increase our chances of finding that ideal partnership where everybody wins. Those 5 concessions appear to show a lapse of integrity as value providers, something we have all unfortunately done. If we do the right thing from the beginning, we will find more success.


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