Q: I was trained in the “anyone who fogs a mirror is a potential client” school of business development and sales. But many of my clients are simply a drag on my sales efforts: slow to respond, difficult, and often not worth the time I put into closing business with them. Help!
A: Not every client is right for every business, or right for you. Dump the junk and enjoy a portfolio of high-performing, revenue-generating clients who refer you.
Why do we end up with a few clients that just drive us crazy? You know the warning signs a mile away. Clients who ask for advice — sometimes time and time again and never plan to invest.
They call you once with a seemingly good question; call one more time with another question, and again with another. They waste your time. They get annoyed if you don’t return their calls promptly or turn them over to someone else in your office.
No, this isn’t a fable. It happens every day. It is the real world (and a nightmare). I call these PITA — or “pain in the [email protected]#” — clients. Do you have a PITA client — or perhaps more than one?
PITA clients are never happy. PITAs drain your emotions and sap your time, energy and patience. Yet many of us accept this bad business, thinking bad business must be better than no business. But is it?
Dump hidden costs
When we accept bad clients, we pay a hidden cost — the lost opportunity sourcing and servicing phenomenal clients. Collect too many PITA clients and watch your production dwindle. It’s not a compelling scenario.
So, why accept business from a few clients who drive us crazy and drain our resources? Many say because of a looming goal, or because their carrier is launching a new program or offering a one-time only deal. Many of us create unrealistic expectations that we can turn a bad situation into a good one. But the truth is that bad business is bad business. Period.
Dump the junk
Never ask a PITA to refer you. Why? Because PITAs hang out with other PITAs. They belong to the same organizations, play golf together and love telling stories about how they negotiated an unprecedented deal or whipped an advisor into shape. Your best sales decision: Fire the PITA.
Most of the time we see the PITA client warning flags early in the game — before we even begin to work with them. Pay attention. Listen to your instinct. Say “no.” It’s OK to walk away. You then have time to attract exactly the kind of clients you want.