“Walking away from business”—now there’s a concept that you don’t often hear discussed. I think there are three main situations in which you should consider walking away from a potential new client.
1. Client Doesn’t Fit Your Business Model
When you accept clients who don’t fit your business model, you don’t have as much time to attract and serve the clients who do fit your model. Why do people take clients who don’t fit? Two main reasons: (1) they have a scarcity mentality, or (2) they are afraid to say no.
Be on the lookout for the scarcity mentality—meaning you see prospects and clients as a scarce resource and so you’ll take anything that comes along. This often unconscious way of thinking or believing keeps many a talented person from reaching his or her full potential. The truth is, there are plenty of great clients out there; you just have to put yourself in the right flow.
2. Client Isn’t Pleasant to Work with or Has Unrealistic Expectations
I sincerely believe that an initial meeting between you and a prospect should be a mutual interview so that you both can see if you like each other and have similar expectations related to your product or service. How many times have you had a gut feeling, “I don’t think I’m going to enjoy working with this person,” and you bring the person on as a client anyway? Trust your gut! It will save you time, aggravation, and often money in the long run.
3. Prospect Is Stringing You Along
Have you noticed that many prospects don’t know how to say no to us? Sure, many of them have no trouble at all, but many others give us noes disguised as “maybes.” At some point, you go for the no. You say to this prospect who keeps telling you to call back in three months, “George, I’ve appreciated your willingness to stay in touch. I get the feeling that you’re being very polite, but the prospects of us working together aren’t that strong. Is that a fair statement?”
When you say this to prospects—especially if they know they’ve been stringing you along—you’re likely to get one of two responses. They might say, “Well, I guess you’re right. I am very happy with my current advisor.” Whew! Now you can stop wasting your psychic energy on them as a prospect. (This, by the way, doesn’t mean you stop dripping on them in some soft way—especially if they are a big fish—but now you know the score.)
The second response could be, “No, no. I really am interested. It’s truly a matter of timing. Let me explain a little better . . .” Now you know you still have a decent prospect.
In the long run, your willingness to walk away from imperfect situations will help you build a stronger business that will also produce more referrals.