008 All Customers are Temporary

What do you do when a customer or client wants to leave?  When you understand all your customers are temporary, it becomes easy to know what to do.


It can be difficult when a customer or client wants to end the relationship and move on. It’s especially more difficult when you’re in the early stages and you may only have a handful or a few customers or clients. I know this was the case for me when I was early on with touchingbase.io, my SASS business that I run. I met someone at a networking event and we didn’t even talk about what I was doing but I left my business card. He checked out the site afterwards and emailed me and said, “Oh, this looks pretty interesting. I’m excited to see how it goes.” So I monitored what he was doing and realized he wasn’t using the service at all. I tried to reach out to him and arrange a time for us to talk so I could demo the service for him and I didn’t really hear…I heard a couple of things back but never anything that would move us forward to having a phone call.

After a few weeks, the 30-day trial was almost up and I was getting nervous that here’s someone who I thought they were interested, I thought that the service could help him out because actually he, when we were talking, he had specifically mentioned how he was poor at following up. And so when he cancelled I was disappointed and I tried to find out from him the reasons why he was not interested in moving forward. And the response I got back was a little confusing to me because he responded and said that he was not going to use the service because there was this other service he uses which was free. And the thing is, the other service was for something completely different. It was for a scheduling system and which I would say is kind of in the same realm and that it works through email but that it wasn’t related at all. So, I just let it be. Later as I was thinking through the situation I realized that it’s pointless to ask people for feedback especially after the fact that they’ve cancelled.

People, in general, and this may not be true for everyone, but in general people want to maintain good relationships with other people. And in the situation which has the capacity to be difficult, people just want to give you something that will make the situation go away, make the pain go away. I think that’s what happened here. He was just grasping at the easiest possible solution, the easiest possible answer that would make things go away. Because of this and another situation, I realized the importance of just letting people go. I remember one time I broke up with a girlfriend of mine and we worked well together, I thought, but for various reasons I decided to end things. I was going through the spiel of breaking up and she took it pretty well, she took it better than anyone else that I have broken up with.

Not to say she wasn’t disappointed or that she didn’t care, she did but her demeanor was more like, “Okay, I’m disappointed but I’ll move on.” It wasn’t trying to cling to the past but instead moving forward and seeing the opportunity of the future. The thing about this is that it made me stop and realize, “Hey, am I making a mistake here?” Because of how confident she was and the fact that this is the right way and things will get better. The fact what somebody else says or does is out of her control, she can only control her reaction to it. It kind of made me more interested in her and wondering if I was making a mistake.

Now, when a client or a customer wants to do the breakup, then I try to keep that in mind, that hey you may come together again in the future but you want to leave that confident demeanor that hey, you’ll be fine, things will move on. I put this into practice last year. I was working as a contract developer with a company for quite a number of months and things were going well. In fact, I think I enjoyed working with them, it was a great group of people and the work was very interesting. As far as I knew, they were happy with me as well. The unfortunate part is that there was a merger that took place and while my boss was interested in keeping me on, he did say that the merger may make things difficult.

We actually had discussions about bringing me in as an employee and having me relocate to the location. Unfortunately after the merger went through and the new CEO took over, he nixed all that. Even though we had had initial discussions about the logistics of bringing me in there and filling each other out, it didn’t go through in the end. I think the way of always understanding that clients or customers are temporary fits in well with this situation as well because a deal is never finalized until it’s done. And even then, it may not be done until afterwards. By realizing that all relationships and customers are temporary, it helps you to first of all let them go when they don’t want to be involved with you anymore and I think it helps you to enjoy the relationships while they’re going on.

Published by

Matt McCormick

Matt is the host of "7 Minute Sales" - a podcast from the perspective of a developer-founder who is learning to sell and market more effectively. Follow my journey and lessons learned at blog.touchingbase.io. Matt is also the founder of TouchingBase.io - A Better Follow Up System for Gmail.