Don’t Be Afraid to Fire Your Customers (Part 1)
Could you invest your time with better clients that truly value a hard-working, trusted resource who has their back when no one is watching? Paul Boucherle explains why this tough decision sometimes needs to be made.
I know, the provocative contrarian security business consultant, right? Wrong? The “Sherpa of Sales Success,” as I like to think of myself. As a salesperson, firing a customer sounds suicidal to your revenue stream and career. Heck, I have a family to take care of, gas prices and inflation are eating up my paycheck. Why would I ever fire a customer that buys stuff from me?
Because time is money. A lot of money. A lot of time. A lot of stress. We typically never have enough money or time; stress, not so much … we have plenty of that. So where does that come from as a salesperson or manager?
How about quotas, contracts and expectations we fulfil to keep the lights on with revenue. My point is, could you invest your time with better clients that truly value a hard-working, trusted resource who has their back when no one is watching?
If your answer is yes, then you need to make some tough decisions to invest in the right customers who pay healthier dividends. What is the issue for most salespeople?
Hanging on to “my customer” who I sold to years ago (like the movie sequence in Finding Nemo with the seagulls — “MINE, MINE, MINE”) with some vague hope that those old customers might buy something again; then I won’t get that commission. First things first with Sherpa lessons. Here are three key points for business owners to recognize:
1. Clearly define your sales team roles and your expectations of that role with clarity. If that means new customers who buy new services and bring new revenue streams, then clearly define it. While I understand smaller companies may have one or two salespeople, recognize that new net growth requires either gaining new customers or selling new services to existing customers.
2. Salesperson know thyself! If you get up in the morning wanting a challenge, believing you can bend outcomes by your will and work, are motivated by the thrill of the hunt, want to solve a unique problem in an innovative new way and meet more senior level managers, well, you are a hunter. Hunters typically abhor the challenging tasks of routine customer maintenance servicing. More painful with a low yield is the demanding, problematic existing customer who “measures” you on how fast you respond to their call via your cellphone.
3. The opposite is an account manager who prefers more routine, a steady work pace, is task orientated, likes to work with people they know, are competent and knowledgeable on the nuances, policies, procedures, and ask permission before making an important decision. They can easily fulfill simple system additions, which are typically low in value, high in close rate and usually quite profitable. They can be challenged with selling entirely new products and services when dealing with new competitive bids.
Sales teams that are called upon to invest their time in project management, payment collection, correcting service invoices and solving process delivery issues are not doing their jobs of selling to create revenue growth.
Staying in your swim lane (as a team) wins relay races. Do your technicians, support personnel, operation supervisors, or service teams carry a quota in their job description?
The often-heard logic is, “Well, the salespeople are closer with the customer than we are so let them fix it.” So, should a NASCAR driver refuel and change tires? Hey, they are out on the track, right? Wrong! Customer servicing and relationships are everybody’s job. It’s called company resiliency.
This assumes everyone does their job correctly, follows a process, are trained to effectively communicate and handle contract commitments to allow the team to do an effective NASCAR pit stop. All these checkpoints may suggest an ugly truth. Do you have legacy customers you don’t want, need or can’t afford to service? Tune in next month and I will share the details on this truth!
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