How to Know When the Business “Relationship” is Over!Adrian Miller
Too many businesses stay together with the wrong clients for far too long. These unhealthy negative relationships, if not ended soon enough, can cause unnecessary stress, decreased revenue, and even the complete loss of other, more productive opportunities. What are the key indicators that lead you towards a split? How can you “make the break” and still remain on “good terms”?[Tweet “8 key indicators for when to end a bad #business relationship.”]
It might be time for a break-up if…
You are losing time and money just by working with them
If you’re in sales, you’ve experienced the nightmare client who eats up large amounts of your time, requires an exhausting amount of handholding, and doesn’t pay it back with reliable work. As a salesperson you can’t afford to partner with these people. They monopolize your time and energy, denying you the chance to meet new prospects at networking events and conferences, even costing you money where other projects would be higher paying. If you have a client like this, it’s time to let them go before you need to take a second job!
Their business model has changed and is no longer in sync with what you do
For so long you worked great together for all the right business reasons. Then, their model changed and disrupted the connection you found over countless hours of constant contact and dialogue. Yes, you can still remain friends and share the memories, but looking ahead it might be time to go your separate ways.
Your business model has changed is are no longer in sync with what they do
Like the prior situation but with reversed roles, when you take a different path from your client, it is necessary to move on. Whether you’ve hit a greater level of business and are taking on bigger accounts, changed your service or line of products, or just want to scale back your business, knowing when it’s time to say goodbye can be as important as knowing why you were together in the first place.
You believe they are no longer ethical
Sure, you were able to overlook one or two questionable misdeeds in the past. When it becomes apparent that they’re no longer ethical with how they manage their business, it’s time to cut your losses – and quickly! If your client says or does something controversial you will absolutely be linked and your relationship called into question. You certainly don’t want your name and reputation muddied by someone else’s lack of judgment.
The key players have changed and are making it difficult for you to do business
The relationship was once enjoyable and easy, even mutually beneficial to all. A change in leading decision-makers, however, has made it increasingly difficult to do your job effectively. Whether a minor role reversal for one party or the complete upending of a company’s corporate structure, the power dynamic has clearly been affected. Nothing is forever, and sometimes it’s better to exit gracefully when, you know, the magic is all gone.
Despite your break-up it’s never a good idea to burn every last bridge. Former clients who you could care less about seeing – and even less about recommending to others! – might come back to haunt you like a bad luck penny. While you don’t have to be their best buddy, it’s always best to maintain a good relationship just in case they return into your life. So how do you keep your distance but remain just close enough?
Give them adequate notice
In other words, don’t leave them in the lurch. By providing ample heads up that you’re cutting ties, they can make other plans and won’t blame you for any disruption to their business.
Don’t make it negative
There’s nothing to gain by sharing with a client what they’ve done wrong. You don’t need to scold them; you just need them out of your hair so that you can get on with other business. Instead, explain that circumstances have changed, and you are doing them a disservice by continuing the relationship. (“It’s not you, it’s me!”) Put this way, it’s in their best interest to split.
Keep the door open for if/when circumstances change
Unless you absolutely can’t tolerate to see them again, keep the lines of communication open. Save their contact information, reach out if you must, and be ready for when they are in a better position to return as your client.
A healthy split can often benefit both parties in a business break-up. If what started out great has run its course, it is important to know the indicators for when to move on. When handled with consideration and sensitivity, all sides can walk away with their businesses unscathed and their egos intact.