When Is It Appropriate to Break Up With a Customer?

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No matter how hard you try to avoid it, when you work in sales, there are going to be times when you have to break up with a customer. Here's how to do it professionally.
When you work in sales, keeping a customer base of repeat clients is a big indicator of continued success.
Keeping your clients happy means that you should do anything you can to make sure that every customer leaves happy. This extra effort helps both your company's reputation and your future sales.
That being said, there are going to be times when you realize that one of your customers always seems to be taking up the majority of your time and energy. Doing whatever it takes to make this client happy just wastes your time and your company's resources. The truth is, those resources can be better put to use by taking care of your other customers and recruiting new ones.
Accept that you aren't going to be able to make this customer happy. Losing a customer goes against everything a good salesperson believes in and making this decision is tough.
If you are aren't sure that the time has come, here are some situations when it is appropriate to break up with a customer:
  • You've outgrown each other- Sometimes, a client's needs grow to the point that you believe that they need to work with a company different than yours. It could be that they need a larger company, one that has more resources available or a company that is able to do things on a more personal basis. In this situation, it is always best to refer them to a company you think will be a better fit for them. Trying to work harder in order to make your company meet their needs is almost always a mistake. The relationship will probably end with both you and the client feeling very unhappy. However, by setting them up with someone who can meet their needs, you are able to keep their goodwill and move on to taking care of your other customers.


  • Customers who repeatedly pay invoices late- If your client has trouble paying their invoices on a regular basis, this could eat up a whole lot of your time. If you think that this is becoming a problem, you should first contact the client and find out if there are ways that you can help them take care of their obligations in a more timely manner. Perhaps there is some technical problem that can be straightened out. But, if you see all of these attempts fail and you are pretty convinced that they just don't want to pay and are just trying to put off paying as long as possible, it is better to cut your losses and break up with the customer.


  • Clients who are abusive to your employees- This is a really big one. If you own a small business or you have a managerial position, this situation is even more dire. If the client frequently harasses your employees, you do not have much of a choice except to let them go. Some “difficult” clients actually believe that if they complain loudly enough and if they are disrespectful to the employees, then they will get their needs met faster. This is rarely true. Ask around, if everyone in your office dislikes a particular customer, you might want to ask yourself if it is time to let them go. They probably aren't going to recommend your company to their friends and even if they did; do you really want more clients like them? Go ahead and give your employees a break by getting rid of this customer.
Breaking up is hard to do. And for many salespeople and small business owners, this is especially true. When you make every client important,throwing in the towel sort of feels like defeat or at least quitting. However, there comes a point when you realize that your time is better spent building your business rather than handling a very difficult client.
Not every client is going to be a good fit for your business. Accept this and move on. You'll be happy you did.
Have you ever had to break up with a client? Did you feel guilty about it, or do you just feel relieved? Please let me know in the comments.
By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for SalesHeadsBlog, along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.

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