Clients That Fit (Issue 991)

In which we are reminded to cut ties early to clients for whom we’re not a good fit.

One of my friends has been hot to have a dog since she was five years old. While occasionally pooh-poohing the practice of people procuring pandemic puppies, she pursued her passion and, a few weeks ago, one of the canine adoption agencies with which she registered called to introduce her to Zeus who, it turns out, is a 75 pound, four-year-old Husky German Shepherd mix. Husky coloring. A beautiful dog. Handsome. Statuesque.

So, she took him home to her one-bedroom apartment and made friends. Zeus, it turns out, was a real sweetheart. Loved to have his belly rubbed. Liked to snuggle. Very peaceful in the apartment, didn’t bark.

What my friend did not know, and what she quickly learned, was that Zeus did not want any other dogs on the planet.  Seemed like his preference was that, when he finally crossed the rainbow bridge to the Great Beyond, dogs would become extinct. When she took him out for a walk or a run,  he was VERY aggressive with other dogs… lunging, snarling.  Dogs behind electric fences were the worst;  they would run to the end of their yards and Zeus did not believe they were restrained. Things turned ugly in a hurry.

After a few days of this, concluding that things might get better with training but that Zeus would still be on a hair trigger, with many tears upon losing her dog, the one she’d dreamed about for years, not knowing when or if there would be another any time soon, she returned Zeus to his foster mom, hoping that he would find a home with someone who could offer lots of space, time, and patience to work with him.

Four days later, another adoption agency called to introduce “Max.”  Max had come from a home in which the two humans married each other and didn’t adequately introduce their dogs to each other.  The dogs fought and the humans decided that one of the dogs had to go. Max  moved out.

Max, it turns out, is a 35-pound, sweet-tempered Australian Shepherd – Corgi mix (mid-sized body on shortish legs), playful, wicked smart, and well trained. Max immediately made friends with my friend and they were off and running together. Literally. Although more slowly than she would have been running with Zeus. But, let’s not quibble.  Smiles all around.

It can really hurt to turn away big Zeus client opportunities, particularly when we need the cash. However, it wouldn’t have turned out well for my friend with Zeus and it doesn’t turn out well for us with clients who are not a good fit. Cry the tears; send the Zeuses on their way.  Find the   “Max” clients who fit well.

Nick Miller and Clarity train banks and bankers to attract and develop deeper relationships with small businesses. Many more Sales Thoughts like this and a host of other articles and resources at .

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