January is often a time when you set yourself ambitious sales targets for the year ahead. It can certainly feel good to notch up the new clients as the year progresses. But, in relationship businesses in particular, we do need to be mindful that not all clients are good for you or your business. Taking on the 'The Wrong Kind of Work' is one of the core Foundation Leaks in the Watertight Marketing methodology. So, I've asked Accredited Consultant, Kara Stanford to look at what happens when a client becomes a drain on your energy. ~ Bryony Thomas
Asking the – 'Will this new client energise my business?'– question can seem like a luxury; it’s easy to dismiss it as something that only organisations who are doing really well, or are run by touchy-feely types, can ask themselves. Every commercial organisation needs clients to survive, so does it matter if a client doesn’t hit the feel-good buttons? We believe very strongly that it does.
What harm do de-energising clients do to your business?
First, let’s be clear; we all have bad days even in the best of relationships. These are a normal part of being human. Dealing with them well is often what really cements a good relationship. But we aren’t talking about those temporary glitches. We’re talking about when a client regularly leaves you, your staff and your business, feeling worn out.
These sorts of clients trigger a negative spiral. If you and your team are emotionally drained by a client, you will have less energy to deal effectively with your other clients. You will have less energy to focus your organisation, and on providing the best that you can. You will have less energy to move forward, developing new products, services and markets.
The opposite of “energise” is “demotivate”, “deactivate”. If you take on a client that doesn’t energise your business then they will eventually demotivate and deactivate your business. That matters.
Why do some clients fail to energise your business?
There are two main reasons why a client might not be energising your business:
- They are not the right fit for your business
- Your organisation is doing the wrong kind of work for this client.
The wrong fit for your business
Is this client right for your business? Do they share your company’s values, understand your organisation’s brand personality, and respect the way that you work? If a client and your organisation fundamentally don’t 'fit' then no matter how much good-will is involved, it won’t work. And when it doesn’t work, one or both parties will get frustrated – which is a key energy drainer.
The wrong kind of work
It’s easily done – a client comes along, they want something you almost (but not quite) offer, you decide to take it (times are tight, better to have something than nothing etc.) and…BAM! You are doing a piece of work for them that doesn’t quite fit what your company wants to be doing, or what you’re really good at. Eventually, the cracks appear, and it’s dissatisfaction all round. This is not a recipe for an energetic, mutually beneficial relationship.
So, how can you decide if this client will energise your business?
First, determine how they make you and your team feel. Do you enter meetings with them with a feeling of excitement or dread? If you get a call from them do you assume it's going to good news, or bad news. If it's the latter, this client is not energising you, giving you vitality and enthusiasm – it’s doing the opposite.
You want at least 80% (or more) of your clients to be the ones you find yourself looking forward to meeting, and feeling proud of. Does your team enjoy thinking about how to solve this client’s problems because you want them to succeed? These are very strong indicators that they will energise your business.
A huge clue that they will energise your business is if you both share similar values and approaches to business and they respect the way your organisation works. There should be space in your new business process to have these sorts of conversations... you're choosing whether to work with them as much as the other way around.
Finally, if you are doing work for them that is what you want to be doing, in the way you want to be doing it, that’s exciting! It’s a real buzz doing what you are great at for grateful, responsive people – it makes you feel alive, ready to tackle anything.
Reap the benefits of an energising client
When something energises you, according to the dictionary, they “give vitality and enthusiasm to; supply energy”.
Imagine the impact vitality, enthusiasm and energy has on yours and your clients' organisation; team members who are happy, content, willing to be there; clients, suppliers and other business partners who want to work with you, enjoy working with you.
Imagine the ideas you’ll be coming up with. The solutions you’ll find. The positive contribution you’ll be making to your own well-being and that of the people around you.
The energy these clients will put into your business will help propel you along the road of success.
With all these benefits, finding clients that energise your business isn’t a luxury. In the long term – it’s essential.
© Kara Stanford
For more on 'The Right Kind of Work, check out these posts:
Watertight Marketing Accredited Consultant
Kara is a strategic marketing consultant based in Hampsire. She works with ambitious business who aren’t satisfied with being ‘good enough’.