8 Customers You Should Avoid
Most of the time, customers (and prospective customers) are great. However, there are eight types of customer that are usually more bother than they're worth. Here they are, along with some advice for coping with them.
1. The Lookee-Loo
They are "interested" in your company's offerings but have no intention of buying from you... or anyone else.
Your best defense: In your initial meeting, determine the prospect's financial result of NOT buying. If that number is small, politely move on.
2. The Surpriser
They seem to negotiate in good faith but, just after you've made an agreement they demand a huge discount "or the deal is off."
Your best defense: Just say no. The customer will respect you for holding firm. If the deal disappears, it was never real in the first place.
3. The Freeloader
They demand you write a detailed proposal, then use your proposal to extract concessions from their current vendor.
Your best defense: Never write a substantive proposal without extracting a promise that you can personally present your findings to top decision-maker.
4. The Brick Wall
No matter how much you try, they won't provide you with the information you need to discover whether or not you can help them.
Your best defense: Throw the ball back into their court by asking: "So, how exactly can I help you?" If they don't have an answer, shrug and move on.
5. The Enabler
They tolerate unethical behavior from your competitors and expect you and your firm to be similarly "flexible."
Your best defense: Never do business with any company or person who asks you to do something unethical or illegal.
6. The Invisible Man
They confirm appointments to meet with you but are "called away on important business" when the meeting is supposed to occur.
Your best defense: If it happens once, no big deal. Twice, still no big deal. One more time, assume it's intentional and move on.
7. The Poseur
They claim to have full authority to buy, but actually play a minor role (if any) in the decision-making process.
Your best defense: Keep the poseur involved as you increase your list of contacts at the customer site.
8. The Job Seeker
They pretend that their company is in the market for your offering but are actually trying to build job-hunting contacts in your industry.
Your best defense: Provide your best advice to the job seeker then determine who else (if anybody) you should be talking with.
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GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist
Geoffrey James was recently named a "Top 40 Social Selling Marketing Master" by Forbes, and his blog has won awards from the Society of American Business Editors and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. His writing has appeared in publications as diverse as Wired, Brandweek, and Men's Health, and he is the author of numerous books, including The Tao of Programming, Business Wisdom of the Electronic Elite, and, most recently, Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.