Cranky Old Fart as Product

You can’t sell to everyone. Your products and services aren’t right for all people or companies. So why are you spending so much time presenting a homogenized, milk toast, bland, offend-no-one image?

Why are you so afraid of offending the people who make crappy customers?

When I work with clients and ask them who are their best customers, they can answer quickly.  When I ask, who are your worst customers, they can rattle off a list faster than my brother-in-law heads for the bathroom when a waiter lays down the dinner bill. When I ask them what traits do they have in common, their answers come more slowly.

Talking about good or bad customers is an abstraction. The human mind doesn’t do well when making decisions based on abstractions. Here is a trick that can turn that abstraction into something more concrete. Try this trick.

It’s important to list the characteristics that make a great customer. For instance for me, here are a  few of the traits of a great coaching client:

  1. Never Knows Enough
  2. Seeks Unvarnished Feedback
  3. Runs a Healthy Growing Business
  4. Reads Non-Fiction
  5. Loves What They Do

Make your list. Is every trait equally weighted? Of course not. Try to assign weights to the traits. For instance, in my list, I would weight the 5 traits from one to five, with five being the most important this way.

  1. Weight #4 – Never Knows Enough
  2. Weight #5 – Seeks Unvarnished Feedback
  3. Weight #4 – Runs a Healthy Growing Business
  4. Weight #2 – Reads Non-Fiction
  5. Weight #3 – Loves What They Do

When you build a list like this you can run a test against your past clients by assigning a score for each trait by customer. Let’s run an exercise against one of my top customers. Here is an example:

Based on that example, my best clients achieve a weighted score of 89. Now let’s run it against one of my poor clients, defined as a client that I was not able to help. This kind of client shows little to no improvement in their company and therefore make poor references. Sure they are not that demanding and they pay their bills. But it isn’t all about paying the bill. Here is a score for a poor customer:

My worst customer scores a 54. I don’t want to do business with 54’s. I don’t want to do business with 65’s and under. Why? I can build a healthy growing business on the over 65 customers, because:

  1. They’re fun to work with.
  2. They appreciate the results.
  3. They associate with business leaders of the same type! They send me good customers.
  4. Success builds on success.

For every prospective client that scores a 70, there are 5 that score a 60 or below and I don’t want to work with 60’s.

That”s where the cranky old fart comes in. That’s a product differentiator. I’m not the coach who is going to blow smoke up your butt. If you are a smoke crazed butt monkey, there are plenty of other coaches who would be great for you. If you want someone who will ask tough questions, push back when you’re trying to BS them or yourself, someone who will hold you accountable, we should talk.

Mr. Cranky is a cantankerous old fart who scares away weak leaders. If you are afraid of the truth if you don’t want someone to hold up a mirror. If you know everything you have to know to crush it… I’m not your guy.

Do you brand for your best customers or do you try to sell to everyone?

What are the take-aways from this?

  1. Figure out who your best customers are. Possibly use some kind of weighted scoring system like this and backtest it against former customers.
  2. Target your brand and your marketing for your best customers. Don’t worry if you scare away the customers who are not good for your business.
  3. If you’re a 70 or above, maybe you should try a complimentary coaching session. Schedule a one hour, online coaching session by pressing that little red button down there.