It has been said that to be successful in business you must operate under the premise “the customer is always right.” The truth is that the customer may be “right” for one business owner, but may not be a “good fit” for your product or services. 

When a customer contacts you, it is your job to listen to their needs and educate them as to how you can provide a solution to their needs. This is the perfect time for you to evaluate if this customer is the right fit for your company, or should be redirected from day one.

Treat this initial conversation like a job interview, and look for “red flags” that may trigger that a customer may not be the best fit for your services. Here are three of the most common customer characteristics that should set off warnings immediately:

Freeloader. You and your team spend time providing this customer with detailed information as to your expertise and the benefits that you provide. If in return, the customer focuses only on the price and getting the best deal, walk away. The “freeloader”  has little respect for the expertise, skills, and value of a business.

Negative Talker. We have all encountered a customer who has negative things to say about every business that they have dealt with. Partnering with this person is a big risk. Negative talk signals a customer that may be impossible to please. Graciously side-step the opportunity and wish them the best.

Ineffective Communicator.  Ineffective communication causes confusion and frustration for both parties. You may be trying to negotiate with someone who just doesn’t “get” the way you do things. If you feel like communication is difficult or awkward, step back and consider your own contribution to the exchange. Could you be a better listener or clearer with your explanations? Either way,
it is best to direct this customer to someone who can talk their talk successfully.

Sometimes the thought of turning a customer away seems like self-sabotage, but you must keep in mind that in the long run, a “poor fit” customer can drain your resources and tarnish your reputation. Look out for warning signs and think twice before beginning a relationship with a “less than ideal” customer.