"I had a customer who made my blood pressure spike as soon as I heard she was on the phone," writes Scott McKain in a Pro article at the MarketingProfs site. "We would jump through hoops to try to keep her happy, and she stressed all of us beyond description."

There was only one thing to do. "I fired her," he says. "I told her that we did more for her little bit of business than we did for our best four clients combined and that wasn't going to continue." By choosing to focus his company's efforts on his best customers, McKain improved productivity, enhanced service and found his reward in additional business.

According to McKain, there are more reasons to consider firing a "bad" customer. Even in a downturn—when many of us count each  client as a blessing—some of them might actually be hurting your business.

So, whom do you cut? According to McKain, you may consider severing ties with:

  • The Bottom. Customers who drain your resources without making substantial purchases. "Cut loose those who take time from your efforts but aren't delivering in terms of sales," he advises.
  • The Unprofitable. Customers who close deals but take too much staff time, ask for unreasonable concessions and demand expensive expedited delivery. "Remember, the goal for your business isn't volume, it's profit," he notes.
  • The Obsolete. "If you have only limited resources, don't spend inordinate time and money on customers from declining industries," he suggests.

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