The customer is always right, so you were told right? The customer is king, I’m sure you were also told this, right? Well, there is just one minor detail they forgot to tell you and that single detail they left out is probably what has been frustrating your business. What is that single detail about customers you weren’t told?
It’s ok to let some customers go because not all customers are right for your business.
This is the part you weren’t told and this is the part I want to talk about in this unusual article. Because for so long I have suffered too much in the hands of customers who I should never have involved myself with if I had been told what you are about to read here earlier.
Beware of customers from hell, choose wisely!
You see all customers are not the same, so don’t waste time trying to satisfy all customers. As customers have the right to choose which company to do business with, so you also have the right to choose which customer to do business with. Business is all about value for value. It is a win-win relationship between you the seller and they the buyer. The right customers are those who understand this fact and won’t accept anything less.
I recently wrote an unusual article about seven warning signs of a dying business, in which I talked about no word of mouth as one of the warning signs of a dying business. This is because customers are supposed to be one of your business partners who help spread the word about the remarkable things you do. This is one of the reasons why you should choose your customers wisely. Not all of them fit the description of a partner.
As an entrepreneur, customers make or break your business. Besides your employees, customers are another set of people you should never joke with in business. The success or failure of your business depends on the customer. This is why you should choose your customers wisely. If you associate with the wrong set of customers, your business is doomed!
Four warning signs of customers you must avoid! Below, I present some obvious warning signs of customers who you shouldn’t allow in your business. You also have the right to allow them at your own risk; you will be the judge of that. My role is to share with you from my sad experiences with such customers!
1. Don’t believe in what you are selling The very first warning sign of a customer who is not right for your business is one that says to you something like this: "You know I don’t believe in all these things you are telling me." The next time you hear such a phrase from your customer, take to your heels.
How do you ever plan to sell to someone who obviously doesn’t believe in what you are offering as a solution to their problem? This is like selling ice to the Eskimos. You shouldn’t waste your time trying to convince or confuse or manipulate or any of the sales tactics you use, it won’t work. They are not for you, and they just made it clear. Selling to them is nothing short of a competition, more like a game with two opposing parties.
As entrepreneurs, we often make one major mistake, and that is this: just because the prospect showed some interest on the phone or via email or somehow, doesn’t mean they are the right customer. I used to make this mistake a lot. The high point of this mistake is when the prospect invites you to a talk in their office or comes over to your office. Because they have made this initial commitment, you can be fooled into thinking they believe in what you are selling.
In most cases, they are just trying to see if what you have to sell makes sense or not. Deep inside them, they don’t believe it will work. This is what is known as self-fulfilling prophecies. When a customer believes that what you are suggesting might not work, in most cases it turns out so. Not because your solution is wrong, but because they started with a negative attitude and won’t put in the effort to make it work. These are the customers who don’t follow up on your instructions. They are the customers who want to have it their way. They already have their mind fixed on a particular solution they think is better than what you are offering, by all means let them be!
A quick word of caution here, there is a big difference between customers who don’t believe in what you are selling and customers who don’t understand what you are selling. Those who don’t understand need some education, but those who don’t believe, well, you know what to do – flee!
2. Feels they are doing you a favour This is a classical, provoking and often funny twist of perception coming from customers you should desperately avoid. I talked about this in the introductory part of this unusual article above: business is value for value. The moment a customer begins to have the funny idea at the back of their mind that by buying from you, they are doing you a favour rather than seeing the transaction as a win-win deal, you should flee!
Why should you flee? 1. They will not spread the word about your business to others; after all, they are just buying to help you.
2. They will never implement or use what you are selling to them; they don’t need it. And when they don’t use it because they don’t need it, how do you get repeat purchase?
3. They treat you like trash; remember they are buying to help you and not themselves. You don’t matter; you are just one hungry entrepreneur who needs their money. Are we really that cheap as entrepreneurs?
4. They make you go the whole nine yards. Meaning, they don’t meet you half way, they leave you to do everything, making the whole relationship a one-sided thing. They play the passive role while leaving you to make rain. You will do all the thinking; make all the calls, rack your brain to figure out what exactly it is they want. Well here is the truth, nothing, so stop killing yourself over them.
5. They won’t appreciate you; remember in their mind you are only robbing them of their money. They are buying from you so that you leave them alone in peace.
I seriously don’t know about you, but for me, I’m not bearing the burden of entrepreneurship just because of the money. I am doing this also because of the joy of seeing my ideas translated into products/services that changes the world because of the extraordinary impact they have in people’s lives. So the money is only one fraction of the reward I expect to get from this entrepreneurial journey.
More than anything, I want my products/services to be used because that’s how results are achieved. That’s how the value of the business I am trying to build increases. If they aren’t being used, then I have failed as an entrepreneur regardless of how much money I make, because in the long run, the business will fold up. Or have you ever seen a profitable business whose products/services are not being used?
3. Always want to underpay you Another category of customers you should avoid are those who feel you charge too much and therefore always want to underpay you. Back to my introductory premise again: business is value for value. As entrepreneurs, the pride of what we do is in the value it brings to our target market. Now while not every entrepreneur goes a great deal to ensure what they offer up for sale is extraordinary, for the purpose of this unusual article, I will assume you are one of such entrepreneurs.
So having gone a great deal to provide something extraordinary and taking it a step further to communicate the unusual value you bring to the customer, and yet they turn out with a price that so undervalues your effort, what do you do? Flee!
Now don’t get me wrong, there are certainly several exceptions to this rule, one of them being low purchasing power. If a customer makes me understand that they value what I offer, but can’t afford what I am asking and goes ahead to offer me a lower price, depending on the project, I can concede. In business, this is known as considering all other non-monetary benefits attached to the sale. But if this isn’t the case, and more about the perception that I am trying to overcharge or rob them of more money, I peacefully take my leave.
Why should you leave? 1. The first obvious answer is simple, value. The relationship has to be perceived as a win-win, if not, then you are only going to make the sale and risk the relationship. I always emphasize that, making the sale does not guarantee business continuity. What guarantees business continuity is a profitable long term win-win relationship existing between you the seller and they the customer. I am not in business to make a customer for a day or a while; I want to make customers for life!
2. Creating and delivering exceptional value costs money and time, so when a customer fails to appreciate this fact, then they are simply aiding you out of business. The point is very clear: if you want more, be prepared to pay more and if you want to pay less, be prepared to get less. So unless you want to be out of business, don’t hang around customers who always want to underpay you.
3. They are mean people who always want to cheat others by always asking for more than they give. This is perhaps the most annoying reason to flee from customers who want to always underpay you. The reason they are seeking to underpay you is because they always want to be above you. They want to control you, boss you around and make you feel less of yourself. They are the ones who would always be on your neck to deliver. They are the ones who always expect you to put them first. They are the ones always seeking for attention, always calling, always complaining. They will make your life miserable for a chicken change. Is this what you signed up for as an entrepreneur? I didn’t think so too!
4. Feels they can do what you are making them pay for The classical phrase coming from such customers is this: "What’s so special in what you are going to do? I can do the same too just that I don’t have the time to." Does this sound familiar to you? Customers who fall into this category never cease to amaze me. The reason is very simple; if you can do it yourself, why bother me? The very fact that there is some obvious reason however insignificant it might be to you for bringing me in to do what you can do, then you ought to pay me what I am asking.
Value again is the underlying premise here. Most people don’t realize that time is money. Anything you can’t do for lack of time, and you hire someone else to get it done for you, that’s serious value. Because of all resources on earth, time is the only non-renewable resource. Meaning once it is gone, it can never be regained for life. So what you are paying for as a customer is not the work being done, but the time being saved. That’s why air transportation is more costly than road or rail transportation. The reason behind this is the time being saved. For customers in this category, a little orientation may work and help them see the value you bring. But for those who seem adamant and think you are simply asking for too much, then you know what to do, right? Flee!
Conclusion I can go on and on pointing out several other experiences that serve as warning signs of customers you should avoid as much as possible. What I have realized over time is this, such customers only eat up your time and resources and won’t allow you to focus on getting the right customers into your business. You will often think that this is how all customers are, well you are partially right. This is how all wrong customers are. The day you encounter the right customer, you will better appreciate the need to choose wisely.
The bottom-line here is this, offer value to those who value your offering.
The core of business is relationship, so in essence choosing customers to work with is like choosing those to be friends with. You don’t want to hang around those who bring you down, right? You want to be in the company of those who see and treat you like the special, unique, extraordinary person you are. So go out and find your own kind or tribe of special, unique and extraordinary customers. Trust me, they are plenty out there!
How very right you are! How much precious time have we wasted trying over and over again to explain the quality of our services! Thanks for your post. (Juan Carlos, 08 August 2012)
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