No, I am not doing a bad imitation of Donald Trump; I am talking about something we all need to do with clients from time to time. It may sound a bit odd, but there are times that you have to fire a client. At times it is because they are not profitable; there are times when due to changes in the market, the fit is no longer there and it makes more sense for both to find alternatives. Or there are time where you face a scenario like the one I am facing right now, where the client’s market and their position in it has changed to the point where they are completely reactionary, and is unable to even begin to think or act in a proactive or strategic way. As a result, they are unable to execute their plan, and spend more time rationalizing things than making things happen.
In the process they are totally demoralizing and de-motivating their teams from the top down. One director describes the atmosphere as that of a “sinking ship”. Their desperation is causing them to heap process on top of process to where their sales teams are unable to meet sales requirements because they are too busy completing menial tasks to satisfy senior managements’ need to cover their own inability to impact positive change, so they fall back on forced activity, documented and analyzed (twice) becomes the goal. The latest initiative was to update the titles of reps to better reflect their role (imagined or real).
So here we are at an odd cross road, more than ever the organization could benefit from what we deliver; more than ever they are they are to preoccupied to take in and do what needs to be done; more than ever they are looking for things people and gods to blame for their inability to react to a changing market. After numerous attempts to work with their leadership to address critical issues, it has become clear that the old saying is true, “a fish stinks from the head”, and so the leadership is proving to be ineffective in turning the ship around. Sadly, the only thing left for us is to fire the client.
This is not purely giving up, but we hope it serves two things. First the shock of being “fired” by a vendor may cause them pause, and wake them up to the challenge they are facing. Two, a new vendor, with a different view and approach may strike a chord and allow them to turn things around and start their long struggle back to being successful. And yes, selfishly, will free up time and resources for us to find another client to work with, maybe not any more profitable, but at least maybe happier.