When I was involved in the securities industry for a couple of decades, bond salesmen used to talk about firing clients. It was always a cause for celebration when you could.
- It meant you no longer had to deal with a tedious or challenging client.
- It clearly meant that you also had enough other business that you could afford to lose the client you were firing.
It was not something you could do while you were building your career. When you were trying to establish your book of business, you pretty much had to accept doing business with whoever would help you pay the bills. It didn’t matter how difficult or challenging the client might be.
Every time we added a new salesperson to the trading floor I managed, the same process would occur. We would help the new hire establish a book by giving them the castaways from our existing sales team. These were the prospects that they hadn’t much luck with, but also the difficult or challenging clients that the team wanted to fire.
We are starting to see some of our clients fire customers as well.
I met with one recently who proudly told me that they had fired a client. It was a very big deal. Before you think that this doesn’t sound like a very significant thing, you probably need to know that they only have 7 others.
They were firing 1/8 of their customer base!
So far this year, this client has clarified their values and purpose. They have crafted a transcendent vision and started working on the strategic steps it will take to get them there. They have elevated leaders and begun to approach their market in a much more strategic way.
They are clear on who they are.
They are clear on where they are going.
They are clear on the kind of clients they are going after.
They are clear on the kind of clients that no longer fit their firm.
They are adding a client to replace the one they are firing. The first of many they will add out of their new confidence, clarity, and desire to grow in their market.
In the investment world, you fired a customer when you could afford to. Our client fired someone because they couldn’t afford not to. Their client didn’t align with their values, purpose, or fit the overall culture of their business. The revenue wasn’t worth the challenges, frustrations, or the way they treated their employees.
They are making the right decision for the right reasons.
- Are you clear on who the best clients are for you?
- Are you clear on your values, purpose, future vision, and your overall culture?
- Are you using these crucial benchmarks to guide your decision making?
- Are you willing to make even difficult financial decisions based on them?