All clients are not created equal. Just like you and your company are more valuable to some clients, some clients are more valuable to you and your company. On the other end of the continuum, some prospective clients are not only not valuable to your company; they are detrimental to your company’s success. When it’s true that a prospective client is bad for your company, their business is also bad for you.
Can’t Pay or Won’t Pay
Some companies who might benefit from what you sell, can’t pay. For whatever reason, they just don’t have the money to pay for what you sell. Their credit score reveals that the company is experiencing financial trouble. There is no reason to sell to people or companies who can’t pay for what you sell.
There is another variety of client who has the money to pay but doesn’t. One of the ways they hold onto cash is by not paying their vendors according to the terms of their agreement. Some of the largest and cash-rich companies demand the longest payment terms, even though they have the money to pay.
The inability or unwillingness to pay is bad business for your company, and it is terrible for you. If you need the deal, it means you need to do more prospecting.
You will have clients, who look like a good fit, make demands that your company is unwilling or unable to agree to, and for good reasons. Your client may have a contract that shifts any risk to your company, even when they should be responsible for the risk. Your client might ask your company to indemnify them from risks that your company cannot accept.
In some cases, your client’s demands might require service level agreements that are beyond what your company can provide. The rub here is that anyone can have anything they want, provided they are willing to pay for it. When they are not willing to pay for it, the service level agreement becomes a problem for your company.
Getting paid for the deals you win depends on your company’s ability to execute. When the execution is impossible, the deal is bad for your company and bad for you.
Here is something that you will find to be true in B2B sales. The more your client complains about their existing supplier, the more likely it is that that they are the source of the problem, and often because of their unrealistic expectations. Those who sleep with dogs, wake up with fleas.
There are contacts you will work with who challenge you and your company to raise your game. Some are adversarial as a way to bully you, your company, and your team. You might not recognize the signs until you have won–and fired–some of these clients, but once you know you are sitting across from your future nightmare client, you’ll learn to walk away. You’ll also do so with haste.
You should never feel good about giving your company a horrible and horrific client. Even if you never have to see them again, you have saddled your operations and management teams with a problem that isn’t going to go away on its own.
Treats You Like a Vendor
When someone calls you a “vendor,” you should not believe that it is positive. It denotes a relationship in which you are subordinate. Some people in business don’t recognize the value of relationships and partners, preferring docile, servile, and wimpy salespeople who are conflict-averse enough to prevent them from pushing back on unrealistic expectations and how they are treated.
Over time, you want to build a portfolio of clients who value what you and your company do enough to treat you like a partner, like part of their team. You want to develop relationships where you are treated as an asset.
As you build your client list, think of it the same way you think of your stock portfolio. You want to acquire the best and most profitable clients over the long term. Then you want to hold them.
This factor is more subtle than some others, and it can be more difficult to root out during discovery.
When you are truly consultative, helping your clients with better results often means that they have to make changes–in addition to buying what you sell. Your insight-selling is often correcting something your client is doing that is causing them to struggle to improve in some areas. When they won’t change what only they can change, you are left with a client who buys what you sell and doesn’t get the result.
Bad salespeople waste their client’s time. Poor B2B salespeople talk about their company and its solutions.
Good salespeople talk about problems and implications. Great salespeople talk about strategic outcomes. The best salespeople not only talk about strategic outcomes but also tell their clients what they need to change.
When your client won’t make the change they need to make to produce the better results they need, taking the deal means failing them and your company. As a sales rep, you have to learn to disqualify prospective clients who are unwilling to make changes. You have to refuse their business.
The reason you don’t want to walk away from business that is bad for your company is that you need it. Would you argue to take the business if it wasn’t profitable for your company and you were paid nothing for winning the deal?
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Filed under: Sales