There are situations where to keep our all- important relationships we need to resign our client.

Have you ever felt trapped? Feeling like you are not delivering what you should be for a variety of reasons, and all your instincts and core values tell you this is wrong, but the income keeps you doing it?

About two years ago I faced such a dilemma. My business was doing well. I had major clients on retainers and I had diversified my services to them. However, I was uncomfortable. One of the services I had been asked to take on for one of my clients was not really working. But the client understood that what they had asked me to do would take time and so were being patient.

However, I knew, deep down that my heart wasn’t in what I had been asked to do and therefore it was unlikely that the results would come. It was a form of cold selling and something that I hadn’t done for many years and didn’t like it when I had done it. My field of expertise is building meaningful relationships with existing customers, not necessarily finding new ones.

I was struggling. I found excuses for myself not to do the things I should be doing. I found myself spending more time on other projects than I should be. I was avoiding the inevitable, but the monthly income was important to my family and me.

Like most things, it takes our brains a while to nag away at the issue and work on a solution. No matter how much we think we have compartmentalized it, the brain is still working away on a solution.

And then one morning my brain spat out the obvious. I realized I had to “come clean”. I had to resign this project. It was not going to get better, my heart was not in it and it was unfair of me to take the clients money knowing this. The relationship was more important.

I dreaded having to tell them because in a way I was admitting I couldn’t do something. Something they needed to be done. As a consultant, you like to be able to provide ALL the solutions.

I weighed it up. I needed to manage their expectations and I felt it was better to be honest, save them some budget and suggest another route to get what they were looking for. 

The downside risk was that I could not replace that income quickly and that they might lose faith in my ability and then I would lose ALL their business.

I decided to stay true to my values and contacted my client. What was going to making this even more difficult was that the client was also a very good friend. We discussed how business was going and several elements of the services I was providing and then I brought up the one I had decided I needed to resign. I delivered my well-prepared audio paragraph and waited, with baited breath.

What followed was client relief. They realized it was not working and felt uncomfortable they had asked me to do it, but because I was doing well on all the other aspects of my consulting services, they did not want to rock the boat. They also realized the income was important to me and, therefore felt they should wait because they trusted the results would come. However, it was nearing year-end and he was under immense budget pressure and any cuts would be welcome. He had one now!

What followed was a very important discussion about trust and how he appreciated me being pro-active rather than waiting for the potentially inevitable showdown. It allowed them to make an adjustment, save money and I provided some ideas as how best to go about what they were trying to achieve. He also confirmed that they wanted me to continue working on the other services I provided. The relationship stayed intact.

I can happily say they are still a client and the decision I made, although a tough one was the right one. We have to be true to our client and ourselves. Trust and respect are the cornerstones of any meaningful relationship and should be protected at all costs.

Have you faced any similar situations? Did you value your relationship above the income?

About the Author:

I am the customer relationship mentor, who helps those responsible for their company’s most important customers, to build and maintain their customer relationships and keep them happy, so that they can protect & grow their business.

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