Get Better Clients
by Gary Lockwood, BizSuccess
Have you ever noticed that some people make you feel good just to be around them? These are the people who give you energy when they are near you. These special people seem to unlock your creativity and stimulate your thinking. Wow!
On the other hand, there are probably others you can think of who just drain all the life out of you. Which would you rather have as clients?
I don’t mean to sound rude, but most businesses take on any client who steps up with the money. Don’t get me wrong; we all know that a paying client is indeed very valuable. My point is that you consider the cost to you for dealing with the people you serve. Just for discussion purposes, let’s explore the impact that our clients have on us.
The first type of client mentioned above (let’s name this person Gusto) is the type who is fun and interesting. When you interact with Gusto, you come away feeling energized. This person will likely be the type who gives you honest, constructive feedback about your products and services. Gusto will often even help you improve your offering. This type of client is instrumental in growing your business through their referrals.
Since you like to be around Gusto, you’ll provide extra service, faster turnaround and preferred pricing. Since Gusto is such a happy client, you’ll even refer people to THEIR products and services. Because Gusto is receiving such great, attentive service, you get a steady stream of enthusiastic referrals. You have a terrific symbiotic relationship with Gusto.
Those other types of clients we discussed earlier (let’s name this one Vampire), is the one who complains the loudest, verbally abuses your employees, and is so very hard to please. Vampire will often demand extra services, then complain about them. Vampire will drag out the payments, show up late for appointments and ask for special favors. It is easy to get angry and frustrated with this type of person. A few minutes with Vampire leaves you feeling drained.
Honestly, which type of client do you want around you? Imagine your SECOND appointment of the day is to meet a very important prospective new client. Do you want your first appointment of the day to be with Gusto or Vampire?
I remember riding along on sales calls with a young salesperson a while back. We paid a visit to one long-standing client who ignored us for an hour, then curtly said there would be no orders placed this week. The client then turned and walked away as if we were invisible.
Back in the car, the young salesperson said "I wish I had 20 clients like that one." Seeing my puzzlement at this strange comment, the salesperson explained "I would love to have 20 clients like this one. You see, I have 100 clients like that right now."
What is the impact on you and your enterprise when you deal with Vampire? For one thing, Vampire can cause you to be cynical with new prospective clients. Sometimes, the frustration of trying to placate Vampire can spill over to your staff, suppliers and your good clients. While Vampire may be paying for your products and services, they may be costing you even more.
So how do you upgrade your client base? Let’s acknowledge that even the worst client who pays is still a paying client, after all. I do not suggest you take that lightly. On the other side of the balance scale, recognize the opportunities for you if you upgrade your client base. Before you run off your not-so-pleasant clients, try training them, and yourself, to recognize what is happening.
Start with being honest with yourself. Is it possible that your clients are mirroring your own behavior? To attract the kind of people you want, be the kind of person you want to attract. If you want them to be pleasant, be pleasant. If you desire to be around positive, forward-thinking people, take on that role for yourself. It is not always easy to admit, but often, we are the catalyst for what is happening around us.
Second, wake up to the fact that you are tolerating more than you need to. Your boundaries are being trampled, and you are just letting it happen.
What can you do? The first step is to make a list of the things you are tolerating. Many of your tolerations are not even conscious decisions. You have been tolerating stuff for so long that you do not even realize it is going on. To surface and identify these tolerations, write down everything that you are putting up with, getting by or making do. If you have less than 20-30 on your list, you are only kidding yourself. Keep writing.
Look through the list to see which ones are related to clients and prospective clients. What behaviors are you tolerating from them. What behaviors are you putting up with just to have them as a client.
Next, examine your boundaries. Boundaries are imaginary lines we draw around ourselves to protect us from other people’s unhealthy or damaging behavior. Boundaries are about other people’s actions. Boundaries are about what others can NOT do or say to you (or in your presence).
For too long, we have been vague about where our boundaries are. We are even more vague about making other people aware of our boundaries. Think of boundaries as the protective moat around your castle.
When people step over your boundaries, you have several options. Generally, you can use these options in this sequence:
- INFORM - "Do you realize that you are speaking very loudly?"
- INSTRUCT - "I require that you be on time for our meetings."
- REQUEST - "I request that you pay your outstanding invoice today."
- INSIST - "I insist that you stop using that language in my store."
- LEAVE - "What you are doing is unacceptable to me. I am open to working this out with you when you can do so appropriately and reasonably. Goodbye."
Make others aware of your boundaries when they are violated. You do not have to tolerate inconsiderate or inappropriate behavior. Eventually, you can surround yourself with people who are pleasant, easy to deal with, interesting and, oh yes, profitable. Get better clients. You deserve it. © BizSuccess All rights reserved. No duplication
Gary Lockwood is Increasing the Effectiveness and Enhancing the Lives of CEOs, business owners and professionals.
Phone: (951) 739-7444
* Email: Gary @ BizSuccess.com