Sit and Wait is not a Sales Strategy. It’s an excuse.

Patience may be a virtue but adopting a wait-and-see attitude in the sales process can cost you the deal. Allowing the prospect to control your sales cadence — the series of activities and contacts that take a lead to a customer — is a surefire way to delay, or even prevent, the close.

Those not properly trained in sales often justify a hands-off approach with a series of myths they tell themselves:

Myth #1:  I don’t want to be a pest.

Just because you believe making contact will bother your prospect doesn’t mean they feel the same way. The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” accurately sums up why you need to maintain frequent interactions with a lead. Unless a prospect makes a specific request for time, establish and follow a rhythm of intentional contact and follow-up.

Myth #2: I let my intuition guide my interactions.

Intuition is your perception of a situation, which can be skewed by personal fears and prejudices. Using hunches to guide your interactions with a prospect is not a sales strategy. The sales cadence is an active pursuit with a predefined schedule of contact every 2-3 days (or twice during a business week).

Myth #3: They’ll let me know when they are ready to buy.

A successful salesperson asks for the business; they do not be wait for it to be offered. Follow-up is essential to ensure a sale is brought to a close and done so in a timely manner. A full sales funnel is nice, but the money is in making the sale, not building the pipeline. Pursue business as if your job were on the line because, in sales, it is.

Legitimate situations do sometimes arise where it may be necessary to adjust the sales cadence. For example:

  • The client is securing funding and your calls will not hasten the process.
  • A board meeting necessary to advance the sale is on the calendar.
  • An unforeseen event, like a natural disaster, occurs and disrupts normal business operations.
  • A key decision-maker is on vacation.

When a wait is warranted, the sales process continues, with modifications:

  • Reduce your call, email, or face-to-face touches to once a week during the waiting period.
  • Make a courtesy call to check in and share your excitement about taking the next step once the situation is resolved.
  • Create a value-added relationship by sending relevant content like blog posts, vlogs, or articles that let your prospect know you understand what interests them.
  • Use social media to share a client’s posts which shows you are engaged and invested in their business.

Sit-and-wait is not a sales strategy; it’s an excuse. A good salesperson defines and adheres to a repeatable sales cadence, always keeping the end goal — the sale — in mind. Patience is a virtue but, in sales, utilizing a sound, proven process will result in the desired outcome.

Are you interested in seeing how your sales cadence stacks up against Fortune 500 companies? If so, check out this free assessment tool on InsideSales.com: Score Your Sales Cadence.

 

Changing the Money Mindset

Does talking about money make you anxious or uncomfortable? If so, you are in good company. Whether in personal or professional settings, discussing money can make even the most confident of us distressed.

What is it about money that causes such discomfort? Many financial taboos are rooted in history and culture. In the early 1900’s etiquette standards called out talk of money as uncouth and, for many years, women were excluded from business discussions. Depending on where and how you were raised, you might view frugality as a virtue, exchanging gifts of cash as tactless, or philanthropic giving as a mandate. Social conditioning drives a lot of our thinking about money. Conversely, money has a large impact on how our society functions.

Done well, the sales process is about creating a relationship. The inexperienced salesperson fears that talking about money will disrupt this connection to a potential customer. But the most successful salespeople understand that their prospect-to-customer close ratio is improved when they become comfortable addressing the topic of money — budget, cost, payment — early and often. In doing so, they end up creating fewer proposals to the right prospects, avoiding unnecessary time and work on both sides.

We can lessen the anxiety over conversations about money by not just modifying our approach, but changing the underlying mindset. To start, ask yourself “What, exactly, is money?”

  • Money is an inanimate object. Without human influence, money has no real significance.
  • The absence of money can be difficult, but an abundance of it offers choices and open doors.
  • Money, in and of itself, cannot cause harm. Contrary to the often-misquoted Bible verse, money is not the root of all evil. (The real verse from 1 Timothy 6:10 says “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”)
  • Much good can be done with money. A group of wealthy families that make up The Giving Pledge — including Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan — are committed to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes that help others.

The challenge of talking about money is a hurdle that exists in our own heads. The sales process, in itself, makes the assumption that you — the salesperson — is offering a product or service needed or wanted by the customer, who is willing to pay for it. You can put the concept of “talking about money early and often” into practice by:

  • Asking, in your first conversation with a prospect: “Do you want to know the price?”
  • Offering up a price range (e.g. $50K – $70K) prior to the creation of a statement of work. Be sure to aim high in case the project turns out to be more complex than originally thought.
  • Continuing to address the price question with decision makers when navigating the potential customer’s hierarchy.

Practicing even one of these will save you time, grow your confidence in the topic, and most importantly improve your outcomes!

 

Email is (almost) Everything

In the world of sales, a face-to-face meeting reigns supreme as the preferred method of interaction. However, getting in front of a potential customer can be a challenge if not approached properly. While phone calls are effective, more and more people in business are opting for email over telephone conversations. The Radicati Group, which collects statistics on online engagement, states that 86% of professionals identify email as their favorite mode of communication. Emails give the recipient a written record of the communication, time to think before replying, and the ability to prioritize (or choose not to send) a response.

An InsideSales Labs study of sales professionals in more than 8,000 companies found that 61% of those who participated identified email as their first method of outreach to a prospect. With the average office worker receiving 121 emails per day — and presumably some from your competition — how do you make yours stand out?

Use the active voice.

As indicated by the word itself, the active voice suggest action. Using words in your email that imply forward motion help take your interaction to the next step. Rather than “It would be great to meet with you”, say “I would like to bring our newest catalog by your office.  I’ll be near there next Tuesday afternoon. Can you connect that afternoon after 3pm?

Be specific in your request.

Open-ended questions require more time and energy on the part of the email recipient. Showcase your expertise while making it easier for your prospect to respond. For example, rather than ask “What would you like me to speak on?”, try “These three topics are well-received by groups like yours [followed by the topics].” This gives the prospect an understanding of your offerings and relieves him of the need to do additional research.

Provide suggested response options.

Eliminate the need for back-and-forth emails — which can be time-consuming and annoying — by providing suggested responses to your request. When possible, ask yes or no questions. Instead of “When can we get together?” say “Are you available to meet next Tuesday at 2pm or Friday at 4pm?” Anticipate a “no” response by adding, “If neither of those work for you, please send me two or three other day/time options.”

Make it easy.

The easier you make the logistics of scheduling, the more likely it is that a meeting will actually happen. Tools like Calendly  or Assistant.to give your prospect the ability to easily select the date and time best for them, while coordinating with both your calendars.

Let them know what to expect.

No one likes to be put on the spot. Communicate your goals and expectations in advance so your prospect knows what they need to do or bring in preparation for the meeting. Rather than “I look forward to seeing you” in a confirmation email, state “I look forward to gaining a better understanding of your ideal client.” This level of specificity ensures you and your prospect are on the same page.

The next time your calls goes unreturned, consider that your prospect may prefer receiving information or an invitation in writing. Used properly and with polite assertion, email is an effective tool for advancing the sale.

 

Humanizing the Sales Process

Often, the process of selling is reduced to words like target, lead, prospect, and buyer. Potential customers are mapped to a pipeline; reports reflect numbers. Entry level salespeople are hyper-focused on meeting quotas and CEOs who haven’t been trained in sales swoop in for the close. While there is nothing wrong with any of the above, at the core of it all, a sale is a relationship between people.

Upscale retail magnate Katherine Barchetti was onto something when she said, “Make a customer, not a sale.” This simple statement takes the focus off the transaction and places it on the person. In effect, it humanizes the sales process.

Consider these tips to make more sustainable connections with future customers by emphasizing the people side of the sales process:

Be yourself.
No doubt, you already have many successful relationships with people who value you for who you are. Why change your personality during the sales process? Extroverts bring a natural enthusiasm to sales, capable of engaging prospects and perhaps even making them laugh. Introverts allow potential customers space to be heard and can be a calming influence. As long as you are self-aware and attentive to cues, being yourself will establish a rhythm to the relationship, avoiding what may otherwise come across as a mechanical process.

Be relevant.
Engage your prospect in conversation, asking questions to better understand what they value. Don’t try to force it, but use opportunities that present themselves organically to talk about football, gardening, or other mutual interests. Do you and your prospect both enjoy golf? Do your children attend the same school? Are you both fans of a particular television series? Establish a connection with your potential customer that builds trust and shows that you view them as a person, not just as a checkbook.

Have a process (and follow it).
You can’t rely on charisma or personality alone to secure a lead or sale (read more about this here). It’s possible, even necessary, to follow a sales process while building a relationship. Your process doesn’t have to be rigid or feel scripted, but it does need to move you forward in the sales cycle.The better you know the process, the more natural it becomes and the more capable you are of gathering information while establishing common ground. Done well, working through your process will allow you to get the data you need through “qualification” interactions without making the prospect feel like a target.

We all want to feel appreciated and valued for more than the depth of our bank accounts. The relationship between salesperson and customer is no different. Stop treating the sale like a transaction and focus, instead, on seeing (and treating) your prospect as a person with needs your product or service can satisfy.

Get Paid for Persistence

Is this scenario familiar? You’ve done your research, identified a strong prospect, and initiated contact. You’ve had a pleasant and promising conversation. Yet, though your initial interaction was positive, your follow-up email or call remains unanswered.

Why has your momentum with this highly-qualified, “you-need-what-I’m-selling” prospect stalled? What does it REALLY take to get through to a potential customer?

Know your prospect.

To show the benefit of your product or service, you must first understand the prospect’s needs. Tailor your approach accordingly. For example, if your potential customer has 200 employees, share that your product is specifically designed for organizations with a head count of 100 to 500 people. Identify, through research or conversation, problem areas your solution addresses. Statements like “our product helps companies reduce workers comp claims” or “our team are experts in security training for customers with staffs that travel overseas frequently” show that you not only know the challenge the buyer is facing, but that you will  deliver the solution to resolve it. Be specific when discussing the target audience for your service. Use qualifying language like “we specialize in assisting first-time home buyers” or “we have 20 years of experience working with pharmaceutical companies with drugs in Phase 1 clinical trials” or “our service is designed for first generation college graduates.” Adding this level of specificity will allow your potential customers to self-identify and help build confidence that you have the skills, expertise, and product or service they need to be successful.

Be persistent.

Persistence is defined as continuing firmly in a course of action despite difficulty or opposition. The best salespeople are those who, when faced with a challenge, continue to move forward. Persistence comes in many forms. In today’s culture, we are only as good as our data, so persistence means being committed to a systematic effort to keep your database updated with the most current contact information. Persistence is having the discipline to make one more call, to follow-up even when you are not receiving a response, or to expand your reach within an organization to target multiple key decision makers or influencers rather than a single person. Getting through to your prospect requires action to overcome obstacles and maximize your opportunity to make the sale.

Maintain a steady cadence.

Sales is a process, which requires multiple steps (or actions) to achieve desired result of revenue. . Advancing in this process takes consistent and intentional outreach and cultivation. Follow the four-step call/email process when making contact: 1) introduce yourself, 2) say something that will get the prospect’s attention, 3) state the reason you are calling, and 4) describe the benefit to them. If you were referred to this prospect by a mutual acquaintance, be sure to mention that person’s name. Make it clear to the prospect that you will “knock on their door” repeatedly until they say something- a yes, a no, not now, etc. . You want to give the impression that you are assertive enough to keep at it, friendly enough that they want to call you back, and confident enough to expect a response. Remember the Rule of 7 — someone must hear a message seven times before they act — and be politely persistent.

REALLY getting through to a prospect requires persistence, a commitment to the process, and knowledge of their needs. When you put these into action, you will see a significant increase in number of calls and emails that get returned!

 

How to Uncover Your Prospect’s Budget

MONEY.

What, exactly, is it that makes many people uncomfortable talking about money? After all, it’s said that “money makes the world go ‘round.” Yet even given its pervasiveness, discussing finances can be emotionally charged or seen as taboo.

Social conditioning plays a large role in the reluctance to have conversations about money. In her 1922 book of etiquette, manners guru Emily Post wrote, “A very well-bred man intensely dislikes the mention of money, and never speaks of it (out of business hours) if he can avoid it.” For many, this attitude still exists today.

The unwillingness to talk about money carries over into the business environment, making financial discussions awkward, especially in a buy-sell relationship. However, understanding your prospect’s financial capabilities, limitations, and expectations is critical to the sales cycle. Therefore, it is important to “talk money” early and often. Delaying this important conversation will drag out the sales process and, ultimately, increase the cost of the sale as more time is invested.

How do you go about uncovering your prospect’s budget?

Let’s start with the obvious: you could come right out and ask, “What is your budget?” But in doing so, unless you’ve already established a high degree of trust, you are likely to encounter one of the following obstacles:

Your prospect may not know the budget. Often, when considering a new product or service, part of the buying process is determining what one should expect to pay for it.

Your prospect has a budget in mind but withholds the information because they fear your proposal will be designed to consume the full amount.

In this age of social media and access to information (whether valid or not) through the Internet, potential customers may form negative opinions about a company or individual before ever having a direct interaction with them. This inherent distrust can add to a prospect’s hesitancy to have a conversation about money with you. The options below will help you get the budget information you need while building trust with your prospect:

Provide a benchmark from which to begin the conversation. You might state, “On average, our customers invest between $75,000 to $100,000 on these types of solutions. Is this range consistent with what you were expecting to pay?” If the prospect’s budget matches the range, it makes sense to continue in the sales process. If they experience sticker shock, you can still add value by providing alternative solutions or vendors.

Help the prospect understand costs. Ask, “Do you know your budget, or do you need help to understanding the cost range of these types of solutions?” By offering to provide assistance, you are fostering a relationship with the prospect.

Ask the question in a different way. For example, open-ended questions like “What did you have in mind regarding your spending expectation for this type of solution?” or “What was your team thinking about in terms of budget for this?” allow room for the prospect to respond without making a commitment to a budget. You can then use this information as a jumping-off point for a more in-depth conversation.

Find out where they stand. Asking “Has your budget been set for this service?” will provide you with the response you need to assess how close the prospect is to making an investment. If the answer is “no,” you can offer help in defining the budget. If the response is “yes,” using the benchmarking approach above will move you closer to understanding the prospect’s financial situation.

Once you’ve determined an initial budget, continue to build trust as the sales process progresses. This is the often part of early and often!

Prior to delivering a proposal, re-visit the money conversation. Set expectations and reaffirm your understanding of the prospect’s financial capacity with a statement like “You told me your budget was $20,000 to $25,000. It looks like our proposal will fall right in the middle of that range.”

When re-engaging a prospect, validate the budget. An easy way to do this is to ask, “Has anything changed since we last talked?” If so, you can adjust accordingly.

Financial conversations may not be easy for everyone, but a good salesperson knows how to make others feel comfortable and confident talking about money. Approached correctly, even Miss Emily Post would approve!

Trade Shows: More than just a fancy booth

You have a pull-up banner, logoed apparel, and snazzy promotional products. Business cards and brochures are printed, and your booth backdrop is packed and ready to be shipped to the convention center. You’re all set for the trade show, right? Not quite yet! None of these items will guarantee a successful outcome — customers! — without careful planning.

Let’s start from the beginning: should you even attend this trade show? As a rule, if your competitors will be there you should be, too. Failure to appear can send the wrong message, implying that your company is experiencing financial constraints or is no longer interested in the attendee base as customers. Before committing, however, make sure the show is in line with your company’s priorities and business development plan.

The cost of booth space, a hotel stay, flights, and out-of-town meals can add up quickly. If you are spending your company’s money on a trade show, follow these tips to ensure you are maximizing the return on investment.

Establish a pre-show plan.
Make a plan to leverage events and the time spent at the show — during display hours or not — to optimize attendees’ engagement with your company.

  • Pursue opportunities to be a keynote or breakout session speaker at the show, which will raise your company’s profile and highlight your subject matter expertise.
  • If possible, gain access to the attendee list. Reach out to show attendees in advance, with a specific call-to-action aimed at increasing awareness of your presence. Invite prospects to your booth, where you will have a special offer just for them.
  • Arrange dinner with a high-potential target.
  • Host an invitation-only reception.

Prepare for after the show.
With a good pre-show plan in place, you can expect to return to the office with a solid list of prospects. Advance preparation will greatly expedite follow through after the show, giving you a leg-up on competitors.

  • Before attending the show, define your overall trade show sales process, key qualification questions, and follow-up script.
  • Create a post-show email or mailer in advance, telling the prospect you will reach out to them again within the week. While email is efficient and less expensive, a note sent by mail is more distinct and doesn’t have the potential to get lost in the recipient’s in-box.

Ask questions at the show.
The most effective salespeople listen more than they speak (see last month’s blog for more on this). Your time with a trade show prospect is likely limited, so streamline your elevator pitch and get right to qualification questions.

  • Start with “Are you currently working with an agency/vendor to address your need?” The in-person, conversational nature of a trade show typically yields a robust response about existing relationships.
  • Allow the prospect ample opportunity to share their thoughts.
  • Once they have finished, continue to explore their potential with relevant follow-on questions.

Follow up after the show.
You made good contacts at the show; now it’s time to close the business.

  • Add valid prospects to the CRM, making notes about your interaction and any unique information learned in conversation.
  • One or two business days after the show, send the email or mailer you prepared earlier. Use the information captured in the CRM to personalize your message so the recipient is more likely to remember you.
  • Execute the previously-defined trade show sales process, working towards turning trade show prospects into customers.

Measure the return on investment.
Was the trade show worth the time and money invested? This question can be answered by evaluating the sales funnel. Depending on the length of your sales cycle, this data may require months to gather and, in some cases, you may need to attend a trade show for a couple of years before deciding if it is a worthwhile investment. Ask yourself:

  • How many contacts did you make at the show?
  • How many of these people did you meet with?
  • Of those, what percentage resulted in business for your company, and for what dollar amount?

While fancy displays and cool giveaways are a staple of trade shows, a good strategy is fundamental to turn show attendees into customers. After all, isn’t that the whole point?

Silence is a Sales Strength

In comedy, well-placed silence is crucial to evoking an audience reaction. These breaks – referred to as “pregnant pauses” — give the crowd time to absorb the joke and react with laughter. But comedians aren’t the only group that benefit from exaggerated gaps in conversation. Pregnant pauses are also useful to employ in the sales process.

Too often, in trying to communicate our value proposition, sales people talk too much, effectively sabotaging their efforts. On-line business and sales leader Roy Bartell puts it this way: “Most people think ‘selling’ is the same as ‘talking.’ But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job.”

In sales, we are always trying to move the prospect forward. If there is no time for discussion, how do we know what the prospect is thinking? Meetings that don’t leave room for attendees to share their thoughts are never concluded, next steps never agreed upon. Gong, which makes a product that analyzes sales conversations, conducted a study to determine the appropriate talk-to-listen ratio for optimal sales. In the more than 25,000 sales conversations analyzed, they found the average B2B sales rep spent 65%-75% of the call talking. That left little time for listening.

Though they may feel uncomfortable at first, adding pregnant pauses in your sales meetings will pay big dividends. Being intentional about leaving “white space” in a conversation ensures your prospect not only comprehends the information you are sharing, but also has time to process and react to it. The Gong study found that top closers spent an average of 43% of their call time talking and 57% listening. The more the salesperson talked, the less likely they were to close the deal.

Pregnant pauses not only give prospects an opportunity to speak, but to do so in the manner most natural for them. Carol Linden of Effective with People emphasizes that communication styles between introverts and extroverts vary significantly. Extroverts need space in the conversation to process their thoughts out loud, which enhances their ability to absorb information. Introverts require time to process information before responding and will wait for others to stop talking before they speak up. If not given the opportunity to voice their thoughts in a meeting, introverts will share them in private with their peers afterward, leaving the sales rep unaware of concerns, objections, or vital information. Whether your prospect thinks to talk or talks to think, extended pauses during the sales meeting are essential to moving the sales process forward.

The next time you are in a sales conversation, take a tip from comedy greats and give your audience the time it needs to respond. The positive results are no joke!

 

Chemistry is great (but it’s not a sales strategy!)

We’ve all heard stories — and experienced it ourselves — of two people immediately hitting it off, perhaps even falling in love at first sight.  This instant attraction, often referred to as “chemistry”, is a mutual feeling of connection that transcends the spoken word.  Chemistry doesn’t have to be romantic.  It can happen anytime we encounter someone new, even through our work. Have you ever met someone at a trade show with whom you clicked immediately? Or looked forward to working with a client that seems to “get it”?

Some attribute chemistry to intuition, others think it a result of compatible pheromones.  Whatever the cause, these feelings of connection happen to almost all of us. And while it is exciting to experience a bond with another person, never mistake chemistry for a sales strategy.

Let’s say you are at a trade show where you have a conversation with someone you feel drawn to. He responds in kind, and you have a great interaction that moves him to the top of your prospect list. Once back at the office, you follow-up with your new contact, but your emails and phone calls go unanswered. You begin to question your trade show exchange: “Was I mistaken? Didn’t we have a connection?”

So what happened? Your trade show prospect went back to their office and was immediately overwhelmed with other priorities — a backlog of emails, a report due to his boss, a project deadline — that delayed a response to you. While reconnecting is at the top of your to-do list, it falls toward the end of his as he works through more pressing matters.

Having chemistry with a prospect is a great first step towards making a sale. Let’s face it, we all prefer to work with people we like. However, that bond is not a reason to ditch your normal sales process. Chemistry needs confirmation. Just as an enjoyable first date does not always end in a relationship, connecting with a person may not translate to dollars, nor does a good meeting guarantee a sale (or another interaction).

How do you avoid losing the trade show prospect once they’ve returned to their office?  Your sales strategy cannot rely on chemistry to move forward. Rather, you must confirm there is a next step in the sales process that includes you. This means, while you have the opportunity, getting information that will move you into the “courtship” phase of your relationship.  

Whether you’re following up from a trade show or sales meeting, ask your prospect 3-4 of the questions below to solidify next steps in the sales process:

  • What are your next steps to evaluate what you have seen/heard here?
  • Can we set up a call for next week? Let’s go ahead and get it on our calendars.
  • Who will make the final decision on what you purchase? Who else influences your selection?
  • Are you planning to make a decision in the next 10 days? When should I expect to hear from you?
  • How does our product compare with others you have seen?
  • Where do we stand in relation to the competition? Is our proposal/product among your top three contenders?

Chemistry is an asset in the selling process, but don’t confuse it with a sales strategy. A positive interaction must be followed up with a confirmed next step to get you closer to a sale. Sales is like dating: it takes multiple dates in the courtship phase to get to a long-term relationship!

Breaking Up with a Client

Happy 2018!

January offers a fresh start, a time when we make resolutions to do better, to be better. It’s also an opportunity to take stock of your business by asking three “W” questions:

  • WHAT: Are we doing the work we want to/should be doing?
  • WHO: Are we working for the right customer?
  • WHY: Is the work we are doing lucrative or moving us in the right direction?

Your business will evolve over time, as can a client’s needs, so what do you do when answers to these questions point to a client relationship that’s no longer working?

What would make you need to break up with a client?

Let’s face it: clients keep us in business. But sometimes, as in any relationship, it may be time to walk away. Breaking up is hard, especially when the other party contributes to your bottom line.

Consider this example:

Retail shop owner Claire hires marketing expert Sue to craft a strategy to increase the visibility of her store. Sue and Claire agree on objectives, budget, and schedule. Sue presents the plan to Claire, who gives her approval for Sue to proceed. Halfway through the execution of the plan, which is working as expected, Claire decides she wants to modify the approach, believing her new plan will magnify their results. As a professional marketer, Sue immediately sees issues with Claire’s adjustments and raises her concerns. Sue points out that not only will Claire’s strategy fail to achieve the agreed-upon objectives, it will also undermine the work they have done to-date. Sue tries unsuccessfully to reach a compromise with Claire, who insists that Sue move forward with executing her new (flawed) plan, with the expectation that it will produce amplified results. Sue is in a bind. Not only has her professional advice been ignored, but she knows that if she continues with Claire’s plan, it will not produce the desired outcomes, reflecting poorly on her.

Sue is clearly in a no-win situation, and her best option is to “break up” with Claire before her reputation is damaged. You may also need to break up with a client if:

  • Your client’s goals and/or the approach to reach them differ from your own.
  • Your professional partnership has stalled, with neither party experiencing growth.
  • You feel instinctively that an issue exists with the relationship. (Refer to our “Measuring the Hunch” blog post for ways to test your theory.)

How do you prepare for a break up?

Think of breaking up as pruning a shrub; you must cut off the old to allow new growth to flourish. These steps will walk you through what to consider prior to a breakup:

  • First, you must be able to clearly articulate the reasons for the breakup. If you cannot state why you want to dissolve the relationship, it’s in your best interests to reflect further on the decision.
  • Next, assess the impact of the breakup on both your and your client’s business. Be prepared to address any issues that may fall out. For example, if your client will require further support, be ready to make a recommendation for another service that could help them.
  • Then, prepare for the financial implications of the breakup. Fill your pipeline to replace lost income and adjust expenses as necessary.
  • Finally, prepare your internal team for the breakup. Ensure they communicate the same reasons for the breakup and that you are all on the same page with respect to timing.

It’s time to break up. How do you do it?

Follow these guidelines to make your client breakup as smooth as possible:

  • Don’t delay. Once you’ve prepared for the breakup, act quickly. The goal is start the new year fresh.
  • Express gratitude for your professional relationship to-date.
  • Explain the rationale for the breakup. Keep the reasons simple and avoid over-explaining.

After the breakup – what next?

Post-breakup is an excellent time for active self-reflection and recalibration. Ask yourself:

  • Where did this client relationship go off-course?
  • What could they or we have done differently?
  • How can we avoid the same mistakes moving forward?

Breaking up with a client is a big step.  By “pruning the branches,” you’re allowing for more energy and focus on growth and creativity.  What you learn from the breakup may propel you onto greater things, so be optimistic! It is a new year, after all!

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