In the middle of economic crises, is not easy to cooperate, either to make business and certainly, you can’t afford the practice of selecting clients. As it been said, extreme times dictates extreme measures. The problems are many, but the main one is that the most of the times, the involving parties are not always on a parity or have the same strength. Usually, one part is, usually, in more stronger bargaining position, dictating either roles, rules and behaviors not common in the trade practices or outputs unequal to the level of the bargain between the two parties.

Are you selecting clients?

Picture courtesy of (Chocolate Marshmallow)

When Is It Bad To Select Clients?

Discrimination is a bad practice and especially so, in the business area. It is, in short words, bad business! But many people do it (consciously or unconsciously), and many companies selecting clients, based on, seemingly, perfectly logical arguments, of the type:

  • we have to maintain our level of services and an extra client is one too many
  • we have to accommodate only the clients we can handle
  • we should set up standards for servicing the clients that we should never violate them
  • we don’t have the necessary resources, skills, manpower, etc
  • <…>

when actually they would like to say that:

  • we don’t think that you can keep up with our requirements
  • we know, after a small search, that you are notorious for missing the deadlines
  • we have heard that you don’t provide the necessary focus, resources, manpower in the projects you handle
  • we know that you are understaffed, poorly organized for this type of project, with minimal resources to allocate,

It is always bad business to selecting clients when having all the necessary resources available for the work you have been asking to do, but it is especially bad business, when:

  1. there is no obvious reason to the contrary, and this creates bad impressions to 3rd parties (among other things)
  2. you have the necessary skills, knowledge, expertise, manpower for a successful cooperation and still, refuse to cooperate with a certain client
  3. your cooperation with this client is based on false pretenses or miscommunication
  4. you priorities (personal, business, time restraints, or other), prevent you from fully commit in this client and you don’t state it to the other party
  5. previous cooperation with these particular clients demonstrate errors in cooperation, understanding, resource allocation, deadlines, payments, project description, and specifications, or any vital component on doing your job and you continue to cooperate with this client
  6. your strategic goals and objectives are not matched or are incompatible with this specific client (*and that you should communicate it to the client, in the best possible way) and you accept his offer for cooperation.

The best policy, usually, is to select whom you going to cooperate with, based on the real intricacies, facts, and demands of your business, without fall in a subjective, financial or business biases! Mind you, that the less rewarding jobs, sometimes yield high-impact results in the long run and present the most rewarding business challenges! For that reason, you should always be mindful for your business selections.

Today’s Business Prerogatives

Today is not easy to choose, what business you would like to do and with whom. Or is it? My argument is that especially in these situations you should always do business, that would produce win-win results rather that you be involved in a situation with clear win-lose characteristics (risking or even jeopardizing your relative positioning and authority in your field, the one you have built, after a long time and with a lot of effort!).

Moreover, I believe that in such difficult, business and financial, situations you should assume jobs with relatively low or not ROI (Return on Investment) ONLY if they are accompanied with the required (by you) prerequisites and standards for doing a certain work! (and no, I don’t necessarily mean, the required fee, but this is still a necessity and an always pleasant incentive for every person and business!). I strongly argue, that due to the lack of resources, clients or jobs in the business ecosystem you are not obliged to:

  1. Violate your strategic plans and objectives.
  2. Altered your normal working habits, ethics, and behaviors
  3. Leave behind the jobs or works of other clients
  4. Left projects are central to you or/and your company
  5. Diminish or obliterate you usual changing fees or the payment periods
  6. Invest in the keeping of this one client
  7. Absorb the costs of this one job

All the above indicate a bad deal in the business lingo (something can be verified by an ROI analysis). Would you argue that if this the only one deal available, you should take it, in order to have some kind of work and not left idle your resources? That is a capital error, and especially in the present conditions of work. In today’s competitive market, you gain by following and further your strategic goals and objectives and not by compromising your business value and position in the name of some short-term payments. In the long run, a company might survive with these small money doses, but never again would be prospered, due to the:

  • lack of focus due to the diversification in doing a lot of different things in different areas
  • lack of innovation because of the assumptions that priority is the work-at-hand!
  • loose of the established working ethics and habits due to the “we can make indifferent works and still survive” attitude and focus blurring
  • lost of, any, competitive advantage
  • lack of investment in human capital, since you press your people to perform in different working situations
  • injection of indifference in the work ethics due to the mass production attitude of “survival with any cost
  • general handling and prioritization of the economic and financial situation against to an integrated approach, that would encompass all the collateral creative & innovative dimensions of the company (diminishing thus any strategic advantages of the given company)
  • the predominance of the economic & financial sector against innovation, engineering, ingenuity, human capital, etc

What Should You Do?

Based on the above, the selecting clients clause is, as everything in this world, dependent on some basic conditions and is bounded to certain limitations. Otherwise, when practicing it, you are on the verge of being accused as a snob or elitist, eclectic, idiosyncratic, or simply, as a “without a decent business sense and mind, a one who is rejecting perfectly good business for a whim” kind of type. Not very flattering characterization for a person or business.

So, in order to see with what kind of clients or customers you dealing with, first you should:

  1. Have a business !!! (i.e. to derive resources, money, or something else from this occupation or transaction)
  2. Start with “Why
  3. Have more than one (>1), clients/customers
  4. Have some central vision and plan for your business and its future
  5. Have some resources or you can reassure some alternative resources
  6. Have evaluated carefully your strengths against the market realities and you have decided on your overall strategy
  7. Have a unique sales position, view, proposition, idea, methodology, production scheme, product, service, etc
  8. Have a status, a presence, experience, knowledge, and skills unmatched to anyone in the market.

and then, evaluate carefully, your policy for your clients. After that evaluation, you might need to reconsider your overall strategy and the ways you do business! But, only after that step, the people would characterize you as an authentic person or company or someone who actually knows what he/she doing, and only then you can be regarded as a thought leader in your sector.