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Go Ahead and Fire Your Customer

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We all have at least one – a customer with whom we just don’t like working. Before you get too excited thinking I’m going to say it’s okay to fire any customer – regardless of the reason – guess again.

What I am talking about are customers we don’t like because after we do everything we do for them, we simply are not making any money from them. Not making any money off of a customer goes beyond your commission or bonus. It’s the bottom-line profit your company is not making because of the customer. No salesperson is going to intentionally go out and find unprofitable customers, but too often we do end up with a few of these.

We wind up with unprofitable customers not because of the price we’re charging them, but because of the intensity of their demands and requests. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the customer who seems to always want one more thing. No matter how good of service you think you’re providing them, they keep asking for something more.

The problem we get into is the more we serve the customer, the more they expect from us. Each time we help them, they come away thinking of something else they want from us. These ongoing demands on your time (and the time of other people in your company) are what quickly erode profit – turning a once profitable customer into one that is completely not profitable.

What is even more disturbing is that often this dynamic happens so slowly that we don’t even realize how unprofitable they have become. This “slow drain” means that it usually gets way out of control before anyone realizes how bad the situation is.

To be able to determine which customers need to be “fired,” you must become more discerning of customers who place too many demands on you and/or other people in your company. It is absolutely essential you get control, because if a customer becomes high maintenance, there is a great likelihood they will remain high maintenance.

As the salesperson servicing the account, you are often the one in the best position to realize how high maintenance the customer has become. More than likely, most of the customer’s requests are flowing through you. You then dole these requests out to the respective departments, but collectively all the departments do not see the big picture of everything the customer is demanding.

Once you spot a trend with a customer making multiple service requests, you must begin detailing the cost involved. A detailed account of what has transpired will help when you and management need to decide how to deal with the customer.

Once you have identified an unprofitable customer, you and your company must decide what is going to be done about the customer.

Too many times, companies roll over and play dead and allow the customer to continue to be high-maintenance. In the end, the only thing that happens is profit is lost and sales motivation is depleted. You and other people in the company become disenchanted with the amount of support devoted to a customer who never seems to be happy.

If, on the other hand, smarter heads prevail, then you and management will realize something needs to be done to rectify the situation.

There are two options:

1. Confront the customer. Your objective is to decrease their requests.

2. Increase their prices. This will offset the additional costs you incur serving the customer.

Personally, I prefer option #2. The reason is simple. Increasing their price either restores your bottom-line profit or they reject your price increase and leave. Essentially what this option does is allow you to make the profit you need – or it releases you from a customer who is draining your profit. Either way, you and your company are winners.

This is a much better option than the first choice of confronting the customer. I’ve found that confronting the customer tends to create a level of tension that winds up as long-term friction. Ultimately, no one is happy.

If you raise your prices for those difficult customers, you will gain the profit you need or the customer will walk away. The beautiful part of using this approach to “fire” your customer is that they leave without you ever having to tell them you are firing them.

Profit is good. Don’t sacrifice it in the name of “good customer service.” Wisdom tells you that the best service is that which satisfies your customer and allows you to make a profit.Your time is best spent on profitable activities. For more information on implementing a price increase, consider this article section of my website (http://thesaleshunter.com/resources/articles/selling-a-price-increase/).

Mark Hunter, “The Sales Hunter,” is a sales expert who speaks to thousands each year on how to increase their sales profitability. For more information, to receive a free weekly email sales tip, or to read his Sales Motivation Blog, visit www.TheSalesHunter.com. You can also follow him on  www.Facebook.com/TheSalesHunter,   www.Twitter.com/TheSalesHunterand www.LinkedIn.com/in/MarkHunter

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Receiving Support: Expert Advice for Two Types of Female Entrepreneurs

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A vast majority of female entrepreneurs go it alone as they launch, build and maintain their businesses – but they don’t have to. By seeking and accepting support from experts and from community members, businesswomen can shorten their learning curves and reach potential they didn’t even know they had.

Research by a trusted authority on female entrepreneurs shows there are five distinct types of women in business. Each type of business owner has a unique approach to running a business and therefore each one has a unique combination of needs. This article describes two of those types and outlines various ways each of them can seek that support effectively.

Accidental Jane is a successful, confident business owner who never actually set out to start a business. Instead, she may have decided to start a business due to frustration with her job or a layoff and then she decided to use her business and personal contacts to strike out on her own. Or, she may have started making something that served her own unmet needs and found other customers with the same need, giving birth to a business. Although Accidental Jane may sometimes struggle with prioritizing what she needs to do next in her business, she enjoys what she does and is making good money. About 18% of all women business owners fit the Accidental Jane profile.

Because Accidental Jane values creating a work-life balance that allows her to make her own choices and maintain her freedom, she would benefit from connecting with a mentor/expert who knows how to build a thriving, happy and balanced solopreneur business – who has experience building a referral system, and who understands making money by leveraging time. Also, Accidental Jane should surround herself with a community of Accidental Jane business owners who understand how she wants to grow her business, and with whom she can share referrals and overflow work.

Go Jane Go is passionate about her work and provides excellent service, so she has plenty of clients – so much so, she’s struggling to keep up with demand. At 14% of women in business, she may be a classic overachiever, taking on volunteer opportunities as well, because she’s eager to make an impact on the world and she often struggles to say no. Because she wants to say yes to so many people, she may even be in denial about how many hours she actually works during the course of a week. As a result, she may be running herself ragged and feeling guilty about neglecting herself and others who are important to her.

Go Jane Go businesses are often thriving – and sometimes at the expense of the Go Jane Go business owner’s personal well-being. Therefore, Go Jane Go will benefit from connecting with experts who can help her with her time management skills, who will hold her accountable when it comes to making time for herself, and who can take care of tasks that do not require Go Jane Go’s own attention. Whenever Go Jane Go has the opportunity, she should delegate to qualified experts to free up some of her own time. If Go Jane Go seeks a mentor, that mentor should be someone who has gone through what she is going through, and who can help her learn to delegate and prioritize. In terms of community support, Go Jane Go should seek a pressure-free community where she can relax, have fun and be herself – where she can feel supported.

For women business owners, seeking expert and community support saves time, frustration and even money – and can accelerate the path to success. Being a solopreneur doesn’t have to mean doing everything alone.

Michele DeKinder-Smith is the founder and CEO of Linkage Research, Inc, a marketing research firm with Fortune 500 clients such as Starbucks, Frito Lay, Tropicana, Texas Instruments, Hoover Vacuums and Verizon Wireless. She parlayed this entrepreneurial knowledge and experience into founding Jane Out of the Box, a company that provides female entrepreneurs like YOU with powerful resources, such as educational blogs, teleclasses, newsletters, and books. Take your Jane assessment to determine your own business type at www.janeoutofthebox.com Also, she is the author of two successful books for female entrepreneurs, “See Jane Succeed” (at www.seejanesucceed.com) and “See Jane Collaborate” (at www.seejanecollaborate.com).

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Letting Go: How Saying “No” to Clients Can Have You Saying “Yes” to Success

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In today’s day and age most people would say it’s crazy to turn down business. Don’t we all need the money? And isn’t work so scarce that it’s better to take a “so-so” job than to hold out for the “yay” job that has you excited when you get out of bed?

I can definitely relate. For a long time I held onto a lot of clients who didn’t excite me and weren’t a great fit for me because I felt it was what I “should” be doing. But then I stopped – I let go – and it made such a difference not only in my business, but my passion for what I was doing.

I needed to let go because I wanted to create a place in my business for a new level of service. I created a way to work closely with a small group of people for a year and I’m giving this group my all. And I could not have done that by not getting rid of everything else.

Focus on services in your business that you love, and let go of the rest. Yes, it can be really scary. So many of us have a mentality that says, “I need to take what I can get.” But I can tell you from my experience and the hundreds of clients I’ve worked with that it’s much easier to start by saying yes to the right opportunity than it is to change later or turn around the Titanic. You don’t want to get stuck with negative momentum.

A recent client of mine was a chiropractor who had 400 patients a week. And he was miserable. Almost all his patients were workers compensation claims and personal injury. All of his marketing efforts were bringing these people in and he was getting ready to quit.

I helped him gain clarity of his ideal client, and while it was pretty detailed, he mainly wanted to work with folks focused on wellness. He started offering wellness and educational seminars and it totally transformed his business. He was able to raise his rates because people focused on wellness really valued what he was doing and he was working in line with his mission of being a chiropractor and healer.

Until he was willing to say “no” to the clients who weren’t working for him and do something different, he wasn’t seeing a change and he was getting really burnt out.

Don’t worry that the clients you say “no” to won’t be served. Refer them to trusted colleagues — your “no” is somebody else’s “yes.” (And everybody is probably much better off!)

There are so many of us holding onto things because we need the money, or this is what you’ve been doing for 20 years. But they are out of alignment with what you really should be doing. You need to create a vacancy. And when you do, the universe will find something to fill it with. But first you have to say “no” and let go.

# # #

Lisa Cherney, a.k.a. the Juicy Marketing Expert, founded Conscious Marketing 12 years ago to help small business owners find their authentic marketing voice, attract their ideal clients and increase their sales. Following her own Stand Out & Be Juicy program, which centers on owning your unique self and laser-focus marketing, Lisa has tripled her income while working part-time.

Prior to Conscious Marketing, Lisa worked with many Fortune 500 companies, including AT&T, Lipton, Nissan, Blue Cross and Equal. She is a highly sought after speaker and often shares the stage with experts such as Jack Assaraf (The Secret), Jack Canfield and Jill Lublin. Learn more about Lisa at www.consciousmarketing.com or call 887-771-0156.

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