We often hear that to be successful in business you must abide by the rule “the customer is always right.” This rule is a great one to follow, however, it’s also important to remember that the customer may be “right” for one company, but may not be the “best fit” for your organization.

“Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.”  Kevin Stirtz, Author, More Loyal Customers

When a potential customer contacts you, it’s very important that you take the time to listen to their needs. Once you have heard what they are looking for, you can decide whether your team can meet those needs AND if it’s in your best interest to move forward with this customer. Based on the initial conversation with this person, it’s important to evaluate if they are a good fit for your company or would be better served with a referral to another source – saving time and energy for both of you.

Treat this initial conversation like you would a job interview. Be aware of  “red flags” that signal a prospect may not be a good fit for what you provide.  Here are three of the most common customer types that should set off warnings immediately:


A “bargain hunter” will often approach you with a laundry list of needs, for the lowest price. If you are not the “lowest price” provider in town and the customer is not interested in your expertise, skills or the value that your company has to offer – walk away.


How many times have you had a customer start the conversation with negative stories about every business they have ever worked with? Negative talk is a huge red flag that signals a person  may be nearly impossible to please. Rather than taking a risk of being the leading character in their next story, graciously pass on the opportunity and wish them the best.


If the initial conversation between you and the individual becomes confusing or awkward, it’s important to step back and determine why. Is it something you are missing, or is it the customer’s communication style? In the long run this type of interaction can lead to mixed messages and cause both parties to become frustrated. It may be something as simple as a conflict in personality, and would be best to refer them to another source.

Sometimes the thought of turning a customer away seems like self sabotage, but you must keep in mind that in the long run, a “not-the-right-fit” customer can drain your resources and devalue your brand and reputation. Look out for warning signs and know that it’s okay to say “no” to a customer that’s not right for you.