As an entrepreneur since 2005, I’ve been in and out of many client relationships. Many of them have been great, but some became confrontational and toxic.
But the toxic relationships didn’t start out like that. At the beginning we were really excited to work together.
We tend to think that all client problems stem from money or big personality differences. Sometimes they do, but many client problems can be caused by something completely different.
The Hunt and Kill Model
Very often, the lack of love isn’t because of a one-time mistake but a subtle ongoing pattern of behavior, leading to what I call “the hunt and kill”. I know that probably sounds pretty random, so allow me to elaborate.
- I’m always more excited at the beginning of a client relationship than towards the end. There’s something exciting about the beginning. Maybe it’s the ‘chase’ of the sale? The pursuit to ‘take down’ a new contract makes me feel like a lion that’s caught it’s prey.
- Then I eat. I’m satisfied. Then I walk away to sleep and let the vultures have the scraps.
Sadly, at the beginning I treat my customers with amazing care and attentiveness when I’m first trying to seal the deal, but once I’ve got them, customer service takes a nose dive.
The branding and marketing industry (and probably others) seems focused on a model of treating people really well at first but then taking them for granted in the long run.
Do you operate this way too?
In the beginning, you’re trying to win the client’s attention, you’re rolling out the red carpet! You give the very best of yourself, but it doesn’t last long. Once the day-to-day project sets in, you stop doing all those things you did in the beginning. You take your client for granted, and it isn’t long before both you and your client start longing for something new where you’ll have your desires satisfied again.
It doesn’t have to be this way! Client relationships should grow stronger with time. Both, should continue pursuing, encouraging, and loving each other through all the seasons of business relationship.
The bible says
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:9-18 NIV
If, like me, you find yourself in a hunt and kill mindset right now, don’t lose hope! Don’t throw away your client relationships just to start a new one with other client and repeat the same cycle. Make a commitment to transform your business and mindset. Stop taking your clients for granted. Your best days together can still be ahead of you and not behind you.
Wherever you are in your business model and client relationships, I believe you can grow stronger with time. Any lack of forethought to the client relationship could end up disastrous, but any relationship given thought and consistent investments of time and focus will flourish until the end.
When a business chooses to serve their clients like Jesus served, the relationship instantly improves.
When you and your clients reach the end of your time together, what will matter most will be the moments you served each other and the moments you served alongside each other. When we remove selfishness from our business relationships, love will be all that remains. That’s the kind of love that can change you as a Godpreneur and change the world through your business.