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Dump the Junk: It’s Time to Clean House

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You know who they are—the time-wasting, buy-nothing customers… By dumping them, you free up time to develop and care for the ones who really matter. Just do it.

The PITA Customer

You can see the warning signs a mile away: They push you on price, threaten to take their business to your competitors, make unreasonable demands, masquerade as the decision-maker, don’t return phone calls; yet expect fast, complete and reliable delivery of your service.

You know who they are: The “pain in the ass” (PITA) customers. Do you have a PITA client–or perhaps more than one?

PITA customers are never happy. They drain your energy, test your patience, and waste your time. They demoralize your entire sales team. Yet companies accept this bad business continually, thinking bad business must be better than no business. But is it?

Dump Hidden Costs

When organizations take on these bad customers, they pay a hidden cost–the lost opportunity to use those resources going after and servicing the phenomenal clients they want and need to make money! Collect too many PITA customers and watch your profits dwindle… not a compelling scenario.

Why accept business from a few customers who drive us crazy and drain our resources? Many salespeople say they sell to “anyone who fogs a mirror”–because of a looming quota, or because their company insists on certain deals. Many sales organizations create unrealistic expectations that they can turn a bad situation into a good one. Are you dreaming? Bad business is bad business. Period.

Dump the Junk

Targeting just “anyone” often means attracting more PITA customers. Never ask a PITA to refer you. Why? Because PITAs hang out with other PITAs. They belong to the same organizations, play golf together, and love telling stories about how they negotiated an unprecedented deal, or whipped a salesperson into shape. Your best sales decision: Fire the PITA. Don’t take them in the first place, and if you have one, recognize you have a PITA situation and fight back.

Yes, fight back–push back–whatever you call it. Don’t take their abuse. You deliver a service that boosts their business. If they push you on price, be willing to walk away. That really turns the tables.

To demonstrate this point, picture two people standing up with their arms out straight, pushing on and resisting each other’s hands. No one gets anyplace. It’s a stalemate. Now re-create the same picture: One person stops resisting. What happens? The other person moves toward the one who ceased resisting. The same thing happens when you’re willing to walk away. Sometimes you’ll walk, but many times the PITA comes to you.

Clean House

So Fire the PITA! We know them 90 percent of the time before we even begin to work with them. Say NO. It’s OK to walk away.

When you walk away, you have time to attract exactly the kind of clients you want, and watch your sales soar!

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9 Responses to Dump the Junk: It’s Time to Clean House

  1. Joanne:

    You said it sister! Yet while we have all heard and philosophically embraced this “Fire the PITA” thinking, I wonder how many of us out there have actually said “no” to those unreasonable clients. I hear this outrage from many consultants and suppliers — we have all been put through the ringer by clients and especially so during this recession — yet I doubt many of us on the supplier side of the fence have actually said “no more!”. Your thoughts?

  2. Richard:

    You are so right. It’s very difficult to say no when we count on sales for our business. And most people take any business they can get–especially in a recession.

    However, it is often the best sales decision we can make.

    I have said no a few times, because I saw “trouble” written all over a prospect. It was a great sense of relief, and it freed my time for more important sales work.

    A lot is about intuition. Follow it, and we have no regrets. So, say NO to the PITA!

  3. Bill Hammer says:

    The PITA concept has been around a long time. 15 years ago I had an account that wanted to get rid of some customers (however some of them didn’t go away). She set up in her billing system a billing rate known as PITA…the rate was 25% higher than her typical billable rate assuming it would drive those she didn’t want away…well a number of those “special” clients just ended up paying more.

  4. Phil Simon says:

    Bad business is bad business. Period.

    Truer words have never been written.

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  9. Me says:

    As somebody who has been a PITA I can tell you there are two sides to every story. I have been stereotyped (older woman) on the spot and spoke down to, lied to, and ripped off by salespeople.

    Once I bought something online and was charged twice. I tried to call the company and emailed a copy of my account showing two identical charges and one shipment. I got a cold response and was told that they only had one charge in their records. I became a real PITA. After much runaround I called my credit card company and cancelled one of the payments. Well then the company did call back and got furious with me but I stuck it out and then they finally looked at their transactions and admitted they had a new computer system with problems.

    They were awful and it took weeks to get my money back and they knew all along they had a problem with their computer system. I will never shop there again and neither will several people that knew what I went through.

    PITAs don’t play golf together and swap stories. That is nonsense and is said only to have people jump to conclusions the minute you show some backbone. It’s like calling somebody a bully when they finally get tired of being stomped on and stand up for themselves. It’s as emotionally draining and time consuming for us as it is for you, Do you really think we want to spend our time on the phone with you?

    You’re a business that provides a service or item to customers. Don’t stereotype and don’t be entitled. You will run into people. Some will be bona fide difficult entitled people but some are simply very frustrated. Don’t assume PITA off the bat. You aren’t perfect either and you are taking their money.

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