Who gets your best work?
If you reserve your best effort for the irritable boss, the never-pleased client and the bully of a customer, then you’ve bought into a system that rewards the very people who are driving you nuts. You’ve made the choice of who receives your best work.
On the other hand, when you make it clear (and then deliver) on the promise that your best work goes to professionals who communicate clearly, are respectful and patient, you become a specialist in personal brand and relationship development while producing your best work ever.
One of the largest turning points of my career was firing the client who accounted for a third of my company’s work. We became efficient at tolerating the stress that came from this engagement but, it became clear we were in jeopardy of signing a lifetime of ‘bad clients’. That’s the day we decided to be very selective of the clients we’d pursue.
Set free to work for those that we believed deserved our best work, we replaced the lost business within weeks.
Years ago, I heard the story of a large retail financial services company that did the math and discovered that fewer than 5% of their customers were accounting for more than 80% of their customer service calls–and less than 1% of their profit. Those customers were politely informed the company could no longer service them properly, and offered to help transfer their accounts to a competitor. This allowed customer service personnel to focus on key customers that were profitable and integral to the company’s financial well being.
No, you can’t always fire those that are imperious or bullies but, you can figure out how to dig deeper for those who aren’t. That means you won’t take advantage of their good nature or settle for giving them merely what they will accept. Instead, you treat the good guys with even more effort and care and grace than you ever would have exerted for the tyrants.
The word will spread.
An alternative strategy is a fine one, if you’re up for it. Cater to and specialize in the worst possible clients and scenarios – – only the least gratifying assignments. You’ll stand out in an uncrowded field.