We have always been taught to put the customer first and even live by the saying –“the customer is always right.” If you have been in business long enough, you realize that this may not always be true for every customer. The truth is that some customers may not be a “good fit” for you.

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. During this initial communication, it is important for you to evaluate if this customer is the right fit for your company.

Treat this initial conversation like a job interview, and be aware of “red flags” that may be triggered that a customer may not be the best fit for your team. Here are three of the most common behaviors that signal it may be time to say no:

Freeloader. You and your team may spend time providing this customer with a lot of information as to your expertise and the benefits that you provide. If you find that the customer is only interested in the price and getting the best deal, beware. The “freeloader” is someone who 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. Communication is the key to a positive relationship in most areas of life. 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?

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