10 March 2006

Choose your clients carefully ...

Last year we met the owner of a successful business who had very ambitious plans for the future. He wanted to take his existing B2C business model and replicate it across the south-east. He had a clear point of difference against his competitors and he had thought hard about his positioning. Better, he also had a good grasp of the pinch points in the business and had a strategy for allowing the growth to develop as resources became available.

He sounds like a perfect client but we sacked him. He was just too tiring to deal with. At every meeting he wanted to review the underlying terms of reference and the fairness of the agreement. That was coupled with a highly individual interpretation of history. On the way over to what was to be our last meeting with him, Chris and I developed some tactics for the negotiation. If he held to a specific position then we were just going to shake hands and walk away.

It happened. During the meeting he took the stance we had expected. He believed that his negotiating style was fair and honest dealing. We told him that we were happy to walk away and he must have thought that it was just another negotiating ploy. He restated his argument. We said goodbye. He didn't believe us. "I can reopen this next year, can't I?". We said no, collected our cheque and moved on.

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