Those who have known me for a long time are scratching their heads right now. They’re probably asking themselves, “has Patrick lost his mind?” They can’t believe I’m actually asking this question.
No, I haven’t lost my mind. I’ve seen too many businesses say yes when they need to say no. Saying no isn’t just for potential customers; it’s for the customers you serve today.
You don’t want to put yourself in a lose/win world.
You’ve all heard about loss leaders. This is where you take business at a loss with the hope that over time you’ll figure out how to make money.
I used to be in an industry that this was the norm. Companies never really did learn how to make money. What they did learn was how to cheat their customers.
They even justified their behavior saying their customers deserved being cheated. I thought my competitors deserved to go out of business. They never learned to say no.
An occasional favor is different than changing what you do.
Every business will have a good customer ask them for a favor. The favor that’s asked will almost always result in you losing some money. When you do a favor for a customer, it’s not always a bad thing. If the favor becomes a normal course of doing business, you’ve just created a problem for yourself.
You must be clear with those you work with that a favor is a favor. If you find there is a request that was supposed to be once and is now how you need to do business, do yourself a favor…..raise your prices or just learn to say no.
Be prepared to become an ex-supplier.
Customers all have expectations about what they want. It’s important that when you find yourself in a lose/win situation you explain to your customer why it’s not working for you.
It could be something you hate or it could be that you’re losing your shirt. In either case life is not much fun or profitable for you.
When you make your explanation you have to be prepared to lose the business. This is especially true if you make the customer wrong. There’s one thing I’ve learned…..a customer who thinks you’ve made them wrong will quickly become an ex-customer.
The antidote is having a sales pipeline filled with good prospects.
It’s going to happen. You’re going to have customers who used to be great and then for one reason or another aren’t so great anymore. Lot’s of time business owners tell me they feel stuck. They believe that if they don’t find a way to serve unprofitable customers they’ll just go out of business. I really don’t want you to feel stuck. It’s a bad place to be.
There are a few owners I talk with who don’t care if they lose the occasional customer. Those business owners all have one thing in common. They have a pipeline with quality prospects that’s filled with great prospects. If they lost a customer they know a new and often a better one will quickly take their place.
What about you, do you have a pipeline that allows you to stay away from those toxic lose/win relationships?
This means you need to know who to say yes to.
I often ask business owners who they want to do business with. Too often I hear, “anyone who can write a check.” If that’s your answer, you have a problem. You need to focus on who your best customers are and who you say yes to.
It’s really very simple. You need to know what makes a great customer and how to find them. Are you willing to really look hard at who you service? Are you willing to change the lose/win customers you have into win/win or tell them they need to leave? If you can’t, I can promise you one thing….life just isn’t much fun for you.
We have a special report on strategic marketing. I know that once you identify and only talk to customers you like and make a lot of money with you’ll be happier and have a better business.