February 23

Sales Logic – How and why to fire a Client


Hey, this is Meridith Elliot Powell, and it is a little early, uh, this morning we are up cuz I gotta catch a flight to uh, New York city. But welcome to sales logic. The show where we dive into the strategies, discuss the steps, everything you need to know to sell more effectively hanging out here with my partner, Mark Hunter, how you doing this morning, mark.

Good morning. If we get this off audio and video stuff to work, I think we’ll have a good show and be able to get it done so you can make your flight. Let’s go

Prospect with integrity. We will get customers who have integrity. Integrity is the foundation from which everything is.

But at the end of the day, sales is a relationship business. It is a people business. It is emotional business.


Is sales logic.

It is sales logic. And again, Saturday morning, a little bit early. Uh, we have a really, I think an important show, uh, today. Something that some of us could all be focused on, but before mark tells you what we got on tap for today, I’m gonna dive in and tell you how the show works. Every week we come to you Saturday morning to talk sales, cuz really there’s good day of the week to be talking in sales. We start off with a question from you, the audience. So if you ever wanna be a part of the show we invite you to do so just by submitting a question to sales, logic, podcast.com, we’ve got a topic that we discuss a book we recommend. And just so that you get return on investment. We leave you with a lightning round. So mark, um, everybody’s starting to, uh, chime in this morning. Tell us what is on deck for today. I

Love, I love this topic when and how to fire a client. We talked about this about six or eight months ago, but comes back around. So I love it. I love it. I love it. And Hey, here’s the question comes from Randall in park city, Utah. I have a client that has been with us for 20 years. And for the last five we have had challenges. They send us a ton of work, but they have so many structural issues within their company that our solutions are not working. I’ve looked into everything doing, and I cannot find anything wrong on our side. However, the client has leadership issues, execution issues, and I feel like they are trying to use our product to solve a problem. That is much deeper issue. How do I present them with this information? Fire them? No, no. It’s okay.

Well I think one of the most important things that, um, that you have gone on here, Randall, the key in your question is the fact that you said they have been a customer for 20 years now. Chances are that in 20 years, you’ve changed and they’ve changed. I mean, that’s really the key that you’ve gotta look at and, and we get it. I mean, loyalty is huge, nothing better than to be able to say our customers have been with us 10, 15, 20 years, but not all customers are gonna roll with you at, at, for that amount of time. So the first question you really need to be asking yourself is take this customer and put them back against your present day target market.

I, I think that is so spot on because one of the things that I think happens is, oh, this is a legacy customer. We have to treat ’em differently. We have to do different things and you wind up doing all kinds of things for them that you would not do to other customers. And lemme tell you something over a 20 year period, uh, we change, we just change and you gotta get used to that. So Hey, don’t think for a moment that there’s some badge of honor, you know, awarded for having a customer for 20 years or 50 years, if they’re not the right customer, get rid of them.

Yeah. Like one of the things we have to ask ourselves as sales professionals, and this is so important for everybody listening today are your products and services solving your customer’s problems because if they’re not, you’re setting yourself and your customer up for, um, an inability to be successful. And that’s not only gonna be a bad transaction between the two of you, but it is going to reflect negatively on you. One of the, um, one of the most important things I always tell customers is I’ll say, you know, when we’re doing this, we’re getting ready to sign. The contract is I need to know your level of commit and to execute and implement everything that we’re talking about. I want you to get return on investment and they always think, well, that’s so altruistic of you Meredith. And I say it, isn’t the moment I sign with you. My brand is on you. And if you are not successful, it is going to reflect badly on me. You have to look at right now, Randall, this customer is reflecting badly on you through no fault of your own. They’re not making, there’s only so much we can do with a product and service that we offer. If the leadership is bad, if the sales team isn’t executing, if their customer service is off, if their financial management is bad, you can’t fix that. And at that moment, they tell you they’re not your target market.

It’s much like making an investment, okay. I’m gonna make an investment into this company, but in, so doing what is my exit strategy. And you have to realize that when you bring on a new customer, there has to be an exit strategy that if, if they fail to do X, Y, or Z, you’re outta here, you’re gone. And that again is no fault to you. It’s really to your credit because you’re staying true to what you want to do to be able to help your customers achieve what you know they can achieve. And if they can’t get it, there’s some other issues there don’t sit there and waste too many cycles, too much energy trying to change something that really can’t be changed just for the sake of saving this 20 year customer.

Yeah, I agree. You know, also, you know, the other part of the question that Randall’s out is basically how does he have this conversation? So first of all, you know, the first part is that we’ve discussed is you’ve gotta get right in your head. It is that it’s unfortunate, it’s sad. But sometimes the relationship is just, uh, you know, just run its scores, mark. And I be doing marriage counseling next week. Cuz that’s what this sounds like. Right. But, um, but the second piece, the second piece is how do you do it? And you simply sit down with the customer and you lay out everything. You’ve done the conversations you’ve had, the products and services that you’ve offered. And here are some of the reasons you believe that, um, that things aren’t working and what would need to happen in order for it to do so. And that maybe you’re just not the right fit for them. Um, you know, any anymore, the worst thing you can do is don’t tell them they’re doing anything wrong. Don’t blame them. Just say, here’s what we’ve done. It’s basically to our capacity, we think we may not be the right fit. Um, uh, at this point, because these are some things that would need to change in order for our product or service to be successful.

And I would hope if you’ve been with them for 20 years, you’ve got that relationship that you’re sitting down with them on a regular basis and having kind of, Hey, let’s discuss the business. So the, the conversation you need to have right now, Randall is really just an extension of the conversations you hopefully should have been having all along. Hey, in the interest of time, let’s go ahead and kinda switch over. And let’s talk about that when and how to fire a client because it’s really kind of what Randall’s gotta do.

Yeah, exactly. You know, I think this is such an important, um, it’s such an important topic when and how to not only fire a client, but went in how to fire, um, uh, a prospect years ago. Um, I, I was a big Jack Welsh fan when general electric, what is at the top of its game and Jack, uh, Jack Welsh used to use a, um, a quadrant that he would put employees into. And one side of the quadrant was values. And on the top of the quadrant was production. And anybody who matched your values and matched and produced was considered an, a employee, a B produced and didn’t match your values. A C matched your values, but didn’t produce. And a D you wondered why you had them an employment. Anyway, I really, um, with my clients, I worked that same quadrant with customers, Jack WESH.

She used to say that the most important employee to coach, um, and then ultimately to fire was your B those that matched that produced, produced revenue, but didn’t match your values. It’s the same with customers. It’s the same with prospects, even though people bring you a lot of business, which is exactly what Randall was going through. This client did not match Randall’s values. And that’s where the drama and that’s where the problem is. Everybody listening to this this morning has a customer that you consider a value customer because they bring you a lot of revenue. But if I asked you right now, would you like to go have coffee with them? You would probably go rather get a tooth pulled out than do that. That’s a great example of a prospect or a customer that needs to be fired.

See, because we can measure the VO. We can measure the volume. We can measure the, the amount of business they bring us, but it’s hard to measure those values. And yet that’s the time suck.


That’s the piece that causes more disruption to an organization. And so many times what happens is people up at the top of the food chain are really reticent to terminate a customer because of, oh, this is the best. This is business that they bring us people further down in the food chain that are actually dealing with them. They’re going, oh, please get these people outta here. And what I’ve seen happen is when that customer gets fired, when that customer leaves, uh, man, the organization goes into a happy dance. They go, yes, finally. And it’s using what it does for morale and for productivity because now those resources can be placed against more productive, more efficient clients, customers that are ultimately gonna help the business.

Yeah. So a few years back, I was working with an engineering firm who came to me with the challenge of they, they said, we, we don’t want to be as busy as we are, but we wanna drive profitability next year. So I think this is really important for anybody listening, um, to this call is at least on an annual basis, put your company values on one side of a quadrant, put your, um, you know, valued customer, high producing customer at the top, and then put your customers into a C and D. And exactly what mark said. Make sure that the people sitting in that room doing that are people at the top of the food chain and people at the bottom of the food chain, cuz there will be, um, discussion. I mean, if I’m a high producing salesperson, I don’t know maybe how much time these people are are involving it or our customer service or operations or things like that. I don’t know how much time they’re involving on the back end. But if you put your customers into those quadrants, then send the sales team out to try to move the BS to a, if you can’t let ’em go. We did that with that engineering for a, and we were able to drive, we decreased how busy they were by something like 11 or 12%. And we drove profitability by 17.9.

That it is so true. And when you talk about values for customers, remember when you line up your values, that’s also the values that you’re gonna be hiring your employees to. And when you have both sides aligned, it’s amazing what happens now here, here’s the trick. Cause we gotta get to the other half. How do you fire a client?


There’s any number of ways to fire a client? One of the easiest ways is you just raise, raise their price and you simply raise the price. I mean, you know, I, you pay me enough money and I’ll put up with a lot of grief. Okay. I’m just


OK, I’m being transparent. Okay. But, but I am not gonna put up with grief from somebody who’s paying me the same amount as somebody who I enjoy working with, it’s just not gonna happen. So there has to be a, a compensation there. So you increase the rate and you encourage them to go someplace else.

Yeah. I, I think that’s so important. I love what Spencer said here. He said had a fired client, come back after five years, ready to implement and follow our process. Now people don’t know what they have till it’s go and let them go. So important. Spencer, you wanna a place of power, please remember every customer that you say yes to, you are saying no to another customer. So it isn’t like there isn’t more business out there. Right? So simply I just sit down with people and I say, you know what? I, I don’t think that I am and I am no longer a really good fit. Some of the things that you wanna do. I used to do this all the time in banking. I worked for a very conservative institution and a lot of my customers just didn’t fit into what we needed to do. They weren’t bad. It was unfortunate. I couldn’t do. And I would just say, it’s, you know, it’s not gonna work out with our financial institution, but here’s somebody that you can work with.

See, that’s good because now what you’re are doing is you’re helping them really get to the end result that they’re looking for. You’re helping them. Yeah. And you’re helping yourself because now you can focus on who you want to be working with. This is so key and here’s what also it happens. It changes your selling process because if you allow yourself to be dealing with high maintenance problem customers, you then begin gravitating towards finding more high maintenance problem customers. Right. Right. I mean, so if, if, if, if you trim the fat and you focus in on who is the best, and those are the clients you keep then guess what? Those will become the clients you wind up getting

Abso absolutely. You’re gonna end up with, um, you know, you’re gonna end up with clients that are easy to work with and are profitable to work with that pay your price. And it is, you know, it it’s worth it. And so again, really look around and really ask yourself, um, is this the right fit? We have all worked with a client. I mean, mark and I can tell you right now have been to a speaking engagement where we had no business doing there. You probably cut your price to get it. Then you ended up working with a meeting planner who asked you for far more than, um, than you traditionally, would’ve done. And it’s you just wanna kick yourself. And, and I think it’s important kind of, as mark said, our job is to help people. It doesn’t necessarily mean we have to help them. Our job is to connect them to somebody who can, um, help them. So use that quadrant. I think it’s really important. Let try to coach the B to A’s if they can’t get there, let ’em go and find more as,

And man, I’ll tell you what, at the end of the day, you will feel a lot better because if you’re dancing with people who you like and people who, you know, and this whole thing, don’t sit there and say, well, I can’t get rid of them because it’s the only customer I got. No guess what? It, it, it, I firmly believe there’s a greater ability to find new customers today than there ever has been because of the media, because of the internet, because of everything out there. So don’t ever think that you have to hold onto this customer because, oh, it’s the only way we’re gonna pay the bills, false, false narrative. So anyway, Hey, we should probably jump over to the book and then, uh, keep rolling along here to those final, you know, our lightning round. What’s the, I, I’m not familiar with this book. You, you picked the book this week.

Yeah. I just finished it. Um, really loved it. Millionaire success habits, the gateway to, uh, wealth and prosperity by, um, Dean Graso Graziosi. I believe you pronounce it. Um, in New York times, best selling author. You see him probably a lot on Facebook and things. He works a lot with, uh, with, uh, with Tony Robbins. He’s partnered with him a lot. Um, I kind of read the book reluctantly. Somebody had recommended it. Um, to me, uh, I sort of wasn’t um, wasn’t too taken with, but I gotta tell you, the book is awesome. If you are looking for daily habits to really put yourself in a growth mindset, this is a, this is a great book, um, to read. And literally it is exactly what it says. Millionaire success habits, looking at people who’ve done incredibly well. And what are those incremental whole things that they do differently?

Okay. Listeners Meredith Elliot Powell has just recommended a new book to put onto your reading list. I was not familiar with it when we get done with the show, I will be buying it and I will be reading it. And I will give you a full report. How’s that? Meredith?

I think that’s, I think that sounds great.

Anyway. Hey, let’s uh, jump into the lightning round. I, I, I kinda like this, uh, top 10 ways to fire a client.

Number one, it is it’s me. It’s not you

Number. That’s good. That’s good. Number two. Raise their price.

That’s absolutely. Um, number three is I would say connect them to somebody who can help them better than you.

Number three, remember that when you wash your hands of them, you’ll feel better and they will feel better.

Uh, number five, are we

On? No, you’re I think it, I don’t know. I don’t know. Who knows

Who. Yeah, no, no. I think it, I think it is number, uh, I think we’ve danced back and forth. All right. Number five is, um, just lay out, um, why it isn’t a good fit and help them understand why it’s not a good fit and that you’re not able to support them. Uh, at this time,

Number six, when you do fire them, have a clean exit package. So they can exit with a good taste in their mouth about you and you really leave them tasting, you know, feeling good too.

Yeah. Number seven is always used the, um, 11th hour letter kind of like Spencer, uh, pointed out is that for right now, it is in a good fit. I’m gonna help you connect to somebody else. But at any moment that you would like to come on board, um, that you’re able to, you know, do some of the things that we’re asking you to do. I’d love to work with you and to have you come back

Number eight, don’t surprise them, make sure you’re leaving them bread, crumbs that this just isn’t a good relationship. Don’t hit them cold with the breakup letter, let them know. Hmm. This is coming.

Oh, I think, gosh, that is, that is, that one is so key. Number nine is, um, do it, don’t put it off. Don’t don’t put it off. Like you’ll do it next month. You’ll do it four months. Um, from now I’ve got one right now. That’s a big one that I’m a little sick at my gut over and there’s nothing more that I would like to do than to put it off six months, but I’m gonna pull the trigger on Monday on Monday. So do it.

Number 10, if you can’t fire a client, you don’t have the will to fire. Just raise their price so much, so much that their grief becomes. Okay. I can, I can put up with it all. Okay. Anyway. Hey, we’re on kind of an express show so we can catch your flight today. So I want to say thank you for listening to sales logic this week. If you like what you hear, subscribe, rate and review the show on your favorite podcast app. If something we’ve said is earned you a single dollar, Hey, consider telling a friend about our show. It’s how we grow, help you grow. I’m Mark Hunter

And I’m Meredith Elliot Powell.

And remember when you sew with confidence and integrity,

Uncertainty suddenly becomes your competitive advantage

And the sale becomes logical.

It does. All right, join us here next week, mark and I will be together in Orlando. Uh, Florida come into you live, uh, from down there. Well,

You’re always live, but we’ll be in person.

We’ll be in person. We’ll be together. And, uh, coming to you actually from a, uh, a sales conference. So, uh, we’ll have some really hot tips and some new things to discuss. So thanks so much, have an amazing week. And, uh, we’ll talk with you. So, bye bye.

Meridith Elliott Powell

Voted one of the Top 15 Business Growth Experts to watch by Currency Fair, highly engaging corporate motivational keynote speaker Meridith Elliott Powell delivers a cutting-edge message, rooted in real-life examples and real-world knowledge. Meridith’s presentations are full of powerful content, highly interactive, and fun. She helps her clients learn the leadership development, sales and business growth strategies to turn uncertainty to competitive advantage.

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