Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Q&A Week 13 - September 22, 2018

For the past few years, since I began using this weekly blog to share stories about sales and sales management, I have been receiving numerous questions from readers including my own clients. Over the next several months I am going to use my weekly ramblings to post one reader question with my answer. Please note – my answers are based on my personal and professional experiences and in no way reflect my company or specific clients.


Q: What advice do you have for terminating a long-term client relationship? I have a client that simply doesn’t mesh well with our company any longer. We have outgrown them and they simply don’t want to invest in our new services.


A: This can be a very sensitive subject for many a sales person. After you’ve developed a business relationship over a long period of time (let’s say years for this example), that business relationship has likely become personal. You visit your client and talk just as much about family as you do employees and services. You’ve come to know much about the inner workings of the clients company and their team. But, over time, you have grown while your client has not. There is no easy way to part ways from this client although it is necessary.


I previously answered a question by referring to time being a precious commodity. Clients take your time. They can either be a valuable use of your time or a waste of your time. Even though they are great people and you enjoy talking with them, they are not producing value to you in terms of repeat business or upselling. They “like seeing you”, but they “do not buy from you”. This must change.


I’ve dealt with this situation many times. It’s like breaking up with someone, you don’t want to do it by text. In other words, you need to have a face-to-face conversation. And, although this conversation will be a little uncomfortable for you, it must be done. I would keep it simple: I’m sorry Joe, but since we have been growing and expanding our services, and you do not seem to be in need of us at this stage, I’m going to have to move on myself with my newer clients. It’s not that I don’t enjoy visiting you, but I am under certain time constraints, and I need to be engaged with others going forward. Just know, if you ever need anything, I am only a phone call away. I will bet you $100 that it will not come as a surprise.

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