Maybe it is against our nature. After all, we are all salespeople. We make more money when we sell more. It could be the fault of those who trained us: Our mentors who told us that sales was a numbers game. The more calls you make, the more times you ask for the business, the more money you will make.
Certainly when top scholars such as Stephen Covey and John Maxwell start talking about the importance of prioritizing your time and tasks to be successful, you can see that there may be inevitable conflicts between what we are taught and what will help us succeed. After all, how can you prioritize your tasks when you are out selling to the world?
Inevitably, this predisposition towards hard selling causes us to set up relationships that bring us business but are not beneficial to achieving our long-term goals. Bringing these non-beneficial relationships to an end is not in our nature. Well, I’m here to say – FIRE ’em!
- Customers in process who are not treating you with respect. You should go to the end of the earth for someone who appreciates what you are doing. Someone who treats you like a servant (or worse) just adds stress in your life and will never become a long-term referral source.
- Customers who you are dragging through the process. Prospects who do not really want what you are offering do not make good customers. This is why we believe most sales training leads us in the wrong direction because it focuses MAINLY on such topics as overcoming objections. Don’t get me wrong, you SHOULD be able to overcome objections, but we all prefer to deal with people who don’t have them.
- Referral sources who do not respect your time or value your service as a partner. They end up wasting your time and are likely to refer customers you are likely to fire in the long-run.
Please note that we are not at all opposed to accepting and working on “tough” deals, but trying to get a tough deal through for someone who really does not want or appreciate it will add way too much stress in your life. It is a proven fact that attitude is a key component of success. It’s tough to have a great attitude when you carry the wrong deals around your neck like an albatross.
So the wrong customers, prospects and referral sources not only take up your valuable time in a disproportionate way from the value you will receive, they also prevent you from being an effective sales person in the long run.
Now that we have established whom should be fired and why we should fire them, the next questions are when should we fire them and how should this be accomplished?
Start by using one simple, but important word: “No.”
If you take a look at those deals you should not have taken in the “door,” you will start to realize that there were warning signs. You must now train yourself to recognize those signs so that you prevent the deal from ever crossing the threshold. You do such with a simple statement such as “It doesn’t look as though I will be able to help you”. One word of caution on this:
We have high standards for prohibition of discrimination. After all, we give access to the American Dream. This means that you must have consistent standards for those you serve.
We should also note that it’s easier to turn people away when your business is strong. If your business is weak, you may not feel you have a choice, but if you don’t start serving the right customer base you may never get the choice! A trait of those who are effective includes a long-term vision.
If after starting the process you are starting to realize the damage and the action of firing becomes harder but even more critical to implement, you must make your expectations of the client perfectly clear. Obviously, you must understand their expectations as well. If these expectations do not match, this is when the service process is likely to unravel. Make sure that you are bringing business in the door with realistic expectations.
Understanding and matching expectations is a clear way to avoid the problem, but when it doesn’t you must act quickly and decisively. One “out” strategy is a Realtor that would be glad to take care of this customer – like a newbie! This way you can help the customer and perhaps generate some business as well, including future referrals.