Why Clients Leave; 3 Facts

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“If you keep doin’ what you’re doin’ you’ll get more of what you’ve got.”

–     Dick Heston  (1933 – 2002) 

“She’s leaving me because she really wants to.  And she’ll be happy when she’s gone…”

–     Lyric from Lyle Lovett’s “She’s Leaving Me Because She Really Wants To

Fact #1:  If your only answer to the problem is to change out the people, either you are the problem or the strategy is, or both.   Another of Dad’s favorites was (summarized) “if you’ve got the same problem with several people, guess whose _____________ problem it really is?” (My dad did love his adjectives!)

So if you’re on your fourth accounting manager or your fifth sales leader or your third attorney or your ninth assistant — guess who the problem it really is!?

Fact #2:  Clients, like Lyle Lovett’s love interest in the song, don’t leave because of price, features, function or whiz-bang gadgets.  They leave because they really want to.  And they’ll be happy when they’re gone.  The time to delight a client or customer is not when they threaten to leave.  It’s now.  Every minute.  Every day.

Oh, sure, they’ll say it’s price or features or functions or whiz-bang gadgets, blah, blah, blah.  But if they leave, it’s because they really want to.  It’s because we didn’t build enough relationship equity to make them want to stay. And that’s our problem.   By the way, the same is true of employees.  Counter-offers never work.  (Really, Heston?  Italics and underline?  Yes!  They.  Never.  Work.)  They simply delay the outcome, not change it.  If one of your best is leaving, it’s because they really want to.

Mirrors are powerful tools for leaders.  Looking into one, and seeing with a critical eye who looks back, can be a powerful gut-check.  And, if the person looking back tells us that it is us who needs to change, we ought to take that counsel pretty seriously.

Oh, that brings us to Fact #3:  Selecting and developing talent is Job #1.  Talent trumps everything else, especially if it’s nurtured over rank, role, tenure and hierarchy.  Patrick Mahomes is only 24 years old.  Guess who the leader of his team is…

 

Reprised from 2002, 2008, 2012 and 2016, with updates for currency


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  1. […] we act.  Our way is who we are.  Simply by the way they lived, Arnie and Fred built enduring relationship equity with two or three generations, the huge majority of whom they never met in […]

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