The 3 Customers I Will Never Work With

If you’re involved in any kind of new business development or sales, then I would always recommend that you spend some time working out the profile of your Perfect Prospect.

Trouble is, it takes a lot more effort than most salespeople want to put into it (while some stretch the exercise out pointlessly in an effort to look busy rather than selling anything) – but I cannot stress the importance of doing it properly.

But here’s another helpful exercise to help you work out who it is you should be getting in touch with – ask yourself……


Because once you’ve worked out who those people are, you can clear them out of your database and start to focus on the people who really want and need your help.

Some people say to me;

“But Chris – you don’t understand – I need the business – I’ll take an order off anyone!”

And others put forward the possibility that they might miss an opportunity – or that if they work this out wrong they could be completely ignoring someone or something massive.

And I get it – I’m not going to pretend I’ve haven’t been there – but here’s what I’ve discovered in the years since I uttered those words myself;

The time available to us to hit our sales targets is not infinite – it starts and stops somewhere.

The number of people we can meet and then look after properly in that timeframe is also limited by those restraints – but is fairly easy to work out if you understand your numbers.

If we continuously spend too much time with people who don’t eventually become customers – then we don’t hit target because all our selling time has been swallowed up talking to the wrong people.

So having a fairly decent idea of the groups of people who don’t like (or who are unable to purchase) the things you sell – means that you can focus your efforts on finding those who do.

I’ve recognised that there 3 types of people who don’t tend to go much further than the proposal stage with me – but also, if I’m honest – who I don’t usually get a great deal of joy from working with.

But now that I’ve realised that and I know it to be true – I find much of my time these days is spent talking with people who I genuinely want to help – as a friend of mine once told me;

“In every aspect of life you should seek to spend your time with people who celebrate you – not tolerate you!”

So – without further ado – the 3 groups I don’t tend to mix with are ….

1. “Wolf of Wall Street” is their Favourite Sales Movie

Would you say that’s what GOOD business looks like? Is that what you aspire to be?

Well if it is – good luck to you my friend – I’m sure you know exactly where you’re going and have no problem sleeping at night with the way your company is viewed externally.

Now – don’t get me wrong,

I’m not some crazy idealist, dreamy do-gooder who is against capitalism, self-promotion, ambition or personal wealth creation – if you know me, you know that ain’t true – and to be fair, I spent a very pleasant evening with my wife watching this film, thank you very much.

It’s just that people who think this film represents “good selling”, great business development techniques or morally acceptable customer attraction methods – don’t tend to want to work with me.

They just don’t.

And I get that – each to their own – if this is how you want your sales team to be remembered by your client-base then I highly recommend you don’t ask me in to discuss their training requirements.

Your needs would be much better served by a whole host of eager beavers out there in the training community who would more than happily take your money.

2. People Who Hide Behind the Success of their Brand

Right – this one really wrangles me.

If you currently represent a brand or company that has been continuously successful for decades before you ever joined – and that success showed no signs of dropping away before your appointment – but for some reason you now think that you;

a) Can take all the credit for the brands international reputation just because you’ve had the opportunity to touch its cloak – or/and

b) Believe your personal development can now come to a complete halt because this goliath of a brand has deemed you worthy to wear the company polo shirt at trade shows

Then, you must secretly know that you’re wrong – don’t you?

As far as I’m aware there’s no record of the Pope, the Dalai Lama, Stephen Hawking or Albert Einstein ever putting their hands up and saying;

“That’s me done – I have nothing left to learn – you’ve put me in a position of importance – TEACH ME NO MORE!”

There are companies (I won’t mention any names here) who employ sales people, sales managers and sales directors who completely believe the two points above – and, it turns out that those kinds of people just don’t want to hear what I have to say.

Sometimes, they keep me away from the business because they’re worried that I might say something that could shine a light on how completely ineffective they are – and rather than improve, they’d rather act like lobsters (lobster people explained here) and keep everyone else in the business firmly at the bottom of the tank – that way no one realises there’s even a problem to be solved.

To my mind, that is the highest level of business selfishness – it rots companies from the inside out.

Hindering company growth – while preventing the success of those who they manage – so that they can hide their own inadequacies – is just disgraceful.

Set these people up in a business by themselves – and tell them to go and earn their considerable salaries on their own merits, with their current skill base – and most would find themselves downsizing their lifestyles very quickly.

Now listen, I’m not being “anti-big-business” – size is not the issue here – in fact you should see some of the hungry, entrepreneurial, talented people I get to work with in some of the world’s biggest companies.

It’s just that there are some company cultures that are completely run by lobsters – only ever promote other lobsters – and nobody at board level questions the sales campaigns or strategies because they appear to be maintaining the status quo and the share holders are moderately happy.

In reality it’s a level of success that would still probably happen if they were all replaced by a drop down menu on the company website – and save the company millions.

And its because I know this – that those people don’t like me anywhere near the building.

3. The People Who Don’t Care

To be fair – this is usually a decision I make rather than the prospective client.

“But Chris – why on earth would you turn down the opportunity to work with someone who wants to work with you?” – I hear you ask.

Well – it’s because one day I might want to become their customer – one day I might have a need to buy what they sell.

And why would I want to share SALES GOLD with someone who doesn’t actually care about their customers?

That would mean giving them the skills that would help them to rip people off.

You know, pretty much the first line I utter to every sales team I coach is;

“Lets replace the word “SELLING” with the word “HELPING” – Let’s HELP people to make GREAT BUYING DECISIONS!”

That’s not a gimmick – it’s not a catchphrase – I really mean it.

There’s a Japanese phrase that has no direct translation in English;

koi no yokan

Roughly translated it’s..

The sense you get when you first meet a person – and you know the two of you are going to eventually fall in love.

It’s not love at first sight – there’s another phrase for that – this is different.

It just feels right – there’s something good and comfortable about being in the other persons presence – like it was meant to be – that this is going to develop and grow – and that it’s going to last forever.

When I walk into a business that I know I’m going to have a great relationship with, I get a feeling – I can sense something in the environment, the culture, the way people greet me, the conversations I have with the stakeholders and decision makers – and the whole experience just makes me smile.

If you’ve worked with me in the past, then I probably told you how I felt at the end of our meeting – because there are certain people and businesses who I just get so excited about working with – I just know when we work together we’re going to knock the results out of the park.

So how do you work out who you’d love to work with and who will never work with you?

Well, my advice to you would be to work out what kind of prospect gives you that sense of koi no yokan – the “this is going to be a great relationship” feeling – and what kind of prospect would you be horrified to be paired with for an entire networking breakfast.

Once you’ve worked out who sits in each of those groups – there will be certain parts of your database that will shine brighter than others – and there will be a gentle tug in your brain that won’t allow you to let those people down.



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