Recently we were approached by a marketing manager at a fairly large company. He was very impressed with his credentials and the fact that he had this big company behind him.

Right from the beginning of our interaction he began to throw the weight of his company around. He was arrogant and, quite honestly, a bit rude. I started out being polite trying to overlook his rudeness, but after a few minutes my internal alarm began to sound. I realized our communication was not going to improve if we worked together.

The warning bells rang louder and louder in my head. I didn’t like him. I didn’t like his arrogance or his attitude. While we pride ourselves on being responsive, he was being unrealistic thinking we would drop everything, and jump as high as we could whenever he called.

So I agonized for a bit. As a business owner you never want to turn a prospect away. But in the end, I sent him a nice note. Thanked him for thinking of us but told him I didn’t think his company was a good fit for us.

What I wanted to do was tell him it was his approach, not the project that sent us running in the other direction. But I didn’t. Clearly he had been behaving like this for a long time, and he wasn’t going to change and I didn’t want to invest the time to try and teach him a better way. It is like someone who eats with his hands on the first date. He isn’t going to be using silverware after the wedding.

So I lost a sale, but I wasn’t sad. I knew if we didn’t like him during the sales process when we were both putting our best foot forward, we would really dislike him as we began to work together. All the little bumps that naturally happen during a project would seem insurmountable. I compared him to another client I really liked. The project we were working on went off the rails a bit because of things going wrong outside of our relationship, but it didn’t faze me because I liked the client. I was willing to hang in there and make adjustments because of our relationship.

As I reflected on this situation, I remembered I went into business for myself so I could spend time doing work I enjoyed and with people I liked and respected. We are very fortunate to have a chance to work with terrific clients who respect what we do and who we enjoy working with. So I don’t mind walking away from a bad fit because I know there will always be another prospect and another opportunity. And I am willing to wait.

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Not all customers are good customers