The 4 Types of Customers that Threaten Your Business
I remember a time as a salesperson when I was trying to get in the door with a specific businessman because I wanted him to be one of my customers. His name was Jeffrey Hayzlett. Jeffrey was a CEO that I met at an event which, for all accounts, was a well-networked person.
Of course, selfishly, I saw this as an opportunity to sell something. With that goal in mind, I cooked up an offer where I would ask Jeff if he would be willing to meet my CEO (a C-Level to C-Level strategy I had some success with in the past). And so I pitched the idea to Jeff via a LinkedIn message…
His reply threw me back – “How would we make money together?” I didn’t even know what to say because I didn’t see that coming. Nor was I able to furnish a solution! He essentially put me in my place, and I had nowhere to go.
Fast forward a year later. I was reading Jeff’s book “Think Big, Act Bigger” and discovered his “Kill the Squirrels” definition. This is where he’ll cite a person wasting his time as a “squirrel” and politely send them on their way. Once I read that, it hit me like a lightning bolt- I WAS THE SQUIRREL! He shot me dead right out of my tree that day when I asked him for his time! And I have respected him for that ever since.
I don’t care where you are at in business (or in the world). There’s one thing that is constant – time has value. The sooner you harness that logic, the more successful you will be.
That being said, you will inevitably come across some characters that will want to waste your time. So I’ve taken a deeper dive into Jeff’s “Kill the Squirrels” by defining the different breeds of squirrels…
Damsel In Distress
The customers who will admit that they need help in a ‘Woah is me’ fashion in hopes to get things done for them….for free.
These folks might be the most dangerous of all because we tend to be a species that want to help people. So when someone is talking down on themselves and doesn’t know what to do, it’s very easy for us to jump in, roll up our sleeves, and start working. The problem comes when you hear them say, “Oh, and I have no money.”
Unless you’re running a charity, or if there’s an upside to getting exposure for your business, my suggestion is to politely back away. I know this can be hard, but unfortunately, it’s necessary for your future success.
The customers that want your time…for free…in exchange for an unsubstantiated future benefit.
There are a ton of people out there with a dream, and they would love you to be a part of it…if only you would do it for free. Because their idea is going to be huge, and you’re going to want to be there when they hit the big time, right?
To me, this is a gambling logic that is very dangerous. I would suggest that you keep your discussions with these people in the present tense. Unless, of course, they can furnish you with a 5-year business plan or offer a percentage of the business.
The customers that want your services…for free…in exchange for a seat at the table of their ‘Board of Directors.’
These folks here are rather clever because they are feeding off your ego. They are tempting you with a high-level title that you believe would make you look good to the general public. The problem is that the general public doesn’t really care. All that’s going to happen is that you’ll be doing work with no monetary compensation.
Being on a board should never be about how good you look. It should never be some kind of barter, either. To me, it should be about you wanting to help another business with your sound advice, with nothing expected in return. Some might disagree with me on this, but that’s where my head is at.
The customers that will stop at nothing to get advice…for free… with no intention of ever leveraging any kind of service.
I actually lifted this term from my friend Mike Skrypnek. Bless these people’s hearts because this is a group that works really hard to get free information. They are sort of like hackers, who seem to enjoy the challenge of getting something for nothing. And when I say nothing, I mean absolutely nothing. These are people that wouldn’t even take the time to write you a review in exchange for the valuable information you provided them.
These types of characters are why it’s crucial to have a qualification process in your sales methodology. Please understand that your business will never be 100% right for every single person out there. Taking on anybody is only a recipe for customer service issues down the road. And that is a stress that you just don’t need.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me at my website at KakVarley.com
We’ll see you back here next time! Thanks so much, and have a great day!