How to lose clients

"How to lose clients" by Greg Alder

Most of you are already doing everything necessary to lose clients. But for those who need a few tips, here is a quick checklist of how to go about it.

Implement any one of these ideas and you will start losing clients. Guaranteed.

So what are the secrets?

1. Losing clients is easy!

Never doubt your ability to lose clients. Anyone can do it – even you.

2. Some people are natural born losers.

Some people were born with The Gift. If you weren’t born with a natural talent for losing clients, don’t fret. It can be learnt.

3. Slowly does it.

Take your time. Surprise is your friend. The best client losses are those you least expect.

4. The accountant who couldn’t count.

The reason you’ll get fired will be different from the reason you got hired. Don’t try to work it out. Just accept it.

5. “Oh my god, it’s HUGE!”

Tell your client anything you think he or she wants to hear – even when it’s the opposite of what you believe.

6. Let me dig myself in a little deeper.

When you make a mistake, don’t admit it. Make up a story to cover the mistake. Then be prepared to make up another story to cover the first story. And so on.

7. “I’m in this for me. Are you in this for me too?”

Never let a client get in the way of your ambition. And never hide your ambition from your client.

8. Please take a number.

Don’t worry if the old clients see you flirting with the new clients. Older clients expect to become neglected.

9. “Do I know you?”

Don’t waste valuable time trying to get to know a client or understand your client’s beliefs or culture. This way you can insult your client over and over again without realising it.

10. The invisible man.

Your clients don’t expect to see you. Your name on the door is enough to remind them of your existence.

11. Shorts and pimples.

Clients like seeing the income you derive from their business going to good use – like employing more people to do your work so you can play more golf.

12. Revolving doors.

Clients love it when their multi-million dollar business gets handed down to increasingly junior staff. They especially love it when their account is in the hands of a school dropout with a vocabulary of a hundred words and an I.Q about half that number.

13. (Part 1) The big picture.

Roll over the staff handling your client’s business as soon as the current staff member really understands that business. That way your client always has someone new to train. Clients love passing on their entire company history over and over again.

13. (Part 2) Superstitious?

Don’t worry if your client is superstitious. Or deeply religious. Or vegan. Say or do whatever comes naturally and let your clients deal with it if they don’t like it.

14. Just like me but different.

Become exactly like your clients. Dress the same. Think the same. Talk the same. That way, clients will feel they are talking to themselves. Clients love talking to themselves.

15. They call me Mister Wonderful.

Believe completely in your own brilliance. Frequently remind your client that you’re god’s gift to [INSERT OCCUPATION].

16. Let yourself go.

Let yourself go. Not corporally, but corporately. Become fat, lazy and careless. Clients expect it.

17. Details, details.

Make lots of little mistakes. They’re not as spectacular as one huge one – but they are often more infuriating. Ignore that silly phrase “Sweat the details”.

18. Loose lips.

Show a healthy disregard for sensitive information. Share the love.

19. What time is the 11am meeting?

Be late for client meetings. Never apologise for being late.

20. Death by deadline.

Delivering promised work on time smacks of trying too hard. Let deadlines pass unheeded.

21. Everything old is new.

Rehash, recycle, regurgitate. If you give a client something original once, he or she will expect it every time.

22. “Shop!”

Don’t give clients things they didn’t ask for – or pay for. Giving them unsolicited gifts or advice smacks of caring too much.

23. Promise them anything.

Don’t make promises. If you do accidentally make a promise, don’t keep it. It sets a bad precedent.

24. “You talkin’ to me?”

Don’t listen to your clients. Make them explain everything at least twice.

25. Cheap at a million dollars, a rip-off at ten.

Make it impossible for a client to judge if he or she is getting good value.

26. Fuckwit, Boofhead & Dropkick Inc.

Let clients see how your senior people loathe each other.

27. The Dodgy Brothers.

Do something dubious. Misuse your clients’ budgets and abuse their trust.

28. The bleeding obvious.

When all else fails, do something illegal.

29. Ignorance and Bliss.

Beware The Foreseeable End. Beware also The False End. Do whatever it takes to avoid seeing the writing on the wall.

30. Every cloud has a dull grey lining.

A warning. Losing clients can be costly. And disruptive. It’s not advised until you have amassed all the wealth you need to see you through life.

Interested in getting more tips on how to lose clients? You can read a chapter from the book, listen to an interview on CBS’s b.net and register for advance news of publication of the book The Fine Art of Losing Clients here.

2 Comments

  • Scott Wagstaff says:

    My favourite of this is number 29. It amazes me how ‘business people’ do 1 to 28 and choose to be ignorant about it. I say ‘choose’ because that is the only way you could justify the decision or ‘lack there of.’ I think the common mistake that is made is an assumption the words “business” and “people” can co-exist with out really doing anything. If these two words ignore each other they can be the most uncomfortable of bed fellows but if they embrace each other they can make beautiful and interesting things. People who say “business is business” are those who will continue to avoid success. Those who believe “business is people” will flourish.

    • Greg Alder says:

      Scott, it really is head-on-the-sand stuff. However, refusing to acknowledge that something is wrong makes it all the more surprising when a client fires you. On the subject of people, it always amazed me how so many businesses discouraged expression of emotion – as if we could check human nature at the door on the way in and pick it up on the way out each night.

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