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When Should You Part Ways With A Customer?


Some relationships just aren’t meant to be.

You’re a seller. Of course you want to close the deal. But sometimes you have to know when to walk. Unhealthy client relationships just aren’t worth the trouble to your sales team.

The essence of business is that all parties involved benefit mutually. If you’re not getting any benefit from a prospective customer (or even a current one), it’s best to walk away.

One scenario where this is a reality is when you’re devoting an excessive amount of time and effort to one client with no means of being profitable. Another is when a buyer is exceedingly difficult to work with or is never happy dealing with you.

It may be worth dropping these troublesome clients, especially if you have other prospects in your sales pipeline that could benefit from your attention.

Sometimes this is easier said than done. Sellers, by nature, want to close deals. Even if a client is a huge pain, you may think it’s worthwhile to keep engaging them because you’ve already come so far in the sales process.

Overcome this by remembering an old accounting principle: irrelevant past cost. Essentially, this means you shouldn’t dwell on how much you’ve invested in a customer up to this point. Instead, ask yourself, “If I knew what I know about this customer today when I started out, would I do this again?”

If answer is no, you should walk away, even if you’ve invested heavily.

When it comes down to the act of ending the relationship, it’s usually best that the buyer’s direct point of contact does the deed. It could become even more awkward if a third party enters the conversation. However, some sales managers may want to get involved to assess whether the reason for the trouble is internal rather than external.

As you end the relationship, make sure to tell the client that you appreciate their time. If possible, ask for feedback to gauge how the engagement could have gone better. Leave the disengagement open ended.

Remember, good business requires that the relationship works for all parties involved. If expectations can’t be met, it’s no good for anyone to continue the engagement. 

The Tellwise Nutshell (TTN): Ending a customer relationship doesn’t have to be a sad occasion. If the fit isn’t right, it’s best to move on. Consider the internal advantages you gain by letting a bad match fizzle. Not only is employee morale improved by the absence of a problem client, but you now have more time to go after better leads.

Looking for a hands-on solution to help solve your prospecting problems? Try Tellwise for free for 30 days!

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