008: Create Loyal Customers and Avoid Bad Clients

Leadership issues have truly morphed. Here is a start on the landscape.

The Problem

(solution list at end of article)

In the training world we have a new and serious issue. That issue is many of the adults who train with business consultants have not finished forming their own identity as teenagers. To make the point, look at photos from the 1940s of people graduating high school vs. 2016.

The result is that they have no loyalty to the adult teams that assist them. They have a need to compete with their own trainers, leaders and teams. The phenomena has grown to the point where thousands of identical products are created, thousands of identical books are created, and the companies and businesses eat themselves from within.

Of course, there is also a major issue with folks who are loyal to a fault. That is not the focus of this discussion.

Your mission could be to train these people to grow up- or your mission could be to keep a successful team focused on progress. These two goals are very conflicted outcomes.

The Inner Business Fix

Your goal is to weed out the ones who will go sideways early, focus your energy on the ones who are mature enough to experience intra-dependent loyalty (as opposed to dependence) and build a customer base, employee team or excellent learning culture.

Your early sign of trouble will be irrational levels of anger or stress when the client or employee is dealing with the rest of the group. It will seem as though they are furious that things aren't going faster- when you test their actual understanding of the material, or the politics of the moment- they will be found wanting. The inaccuracy will be coupled with extreme belief that everyone is lucky they are there. Gratitude for what they are getting from the process will be missing entirely.

In a pre-2000 world most interactions and relationships lasted about 3 years.

The first truth to accept is that no matter what the relationship with employees, students, or companies—they are going to be temporary 90% or more of the time.

Some think it's smart therefore to keep business success secrets to yourself. The issue with that approach is your own mind will eventually burn out on the activity. The whole thing will work better if there is a fresh approach.

Next—accept that many who have not formed an identity will simply borrow yours- whether it is your company, your business model—they will simply change a couple things and truly believe they have invented a brand new wheel. In the modern world you must accept this.

Here are there rationalizations in their head.

  1. I am more organized.
  2. My values and beliefs are better so I am
  3. more ethical.
  4. They were old anyway.
  5. I can't have my customers think I get stuff
  6. from anywhere else.
  7. If I don't break off there isn't enough
  8. money or resources.
  9. They made someone mad. (often missing the
  10. judgement on the part of the senior leader)

Sadly, they eventually get horrible loyalty from their own clients and employees as they are paranoid of the behavior they themselves are guilty of...

The next piece of reality to accept is that many of these clients and employees will need to sabotage or degrade what they have received. This is only about 10% of the total group with whom you deal

The participants' memory will change as they apply what they have learned. That memory will eventually write the contributors out of the picture. This type takes what they learn and expatriate to a new team to be one up—it never occurs to them that they are damaging the group they were in—because they never felt they were a part of that group.

Your Solution


Get testimonials and documentation of what your colleagues or customers have received from dealing with your company often and early. This assists the person to be open about gratitude. It postpones the rationalizing process.

Double Down

When seeing the agenda within employees, double down on the direction they seem to want to go. Anticipate their want and need. Send them in the desired direction (unless they are paying to train-to grow out of a negative pattern).

Unique Training Methods

Use unique training methods that eliminate the,"I've seen this all before" mentality. Get the person responding to new environments and new material that is emotionally stimulating and intellectually new.

Know When To Be Clear...

If they are employees for whom you are paying a wage—make absolutely clear cut, step by step manuals for what is expected of the worker. This is in contrast with the seminar teaching environment where too much clarity robs discovery and excitement. Employees: Clear up front. Seminar and student experience: Clear at back end (in stages) for discovery and interest.

Mastery Before Improvisation

Rules+Experience= Wise Improvisation. In the beginning of a relationship, formally focus on the rules and structure. When the learner has shown mastery of the process, only then begin to encourage changing things up. Discipline of the process, then innovation. Many will try to jump ahead. This is a leadership test.

If the leader allows the employees or students to have a close boundary, those who are rules oriented and literal will begin to judge the leader through the concepts that are expected of the employee.

There will be a sense of injustice that the two are not at the same place in the process. Allow boundaries to fall only if you want the person to move on.

Audition Employees

Pre-hire testing and pre-sales testing need to happen. Interviewing and resume reading are no longer a real way to hire. It is no way to screen clients either. You need to have the prospect do some type of skills testing before the relationship begins. This can take many forms—but in the modern world you may want to think of it as a job audition instead of just an interview. You may also think of taking customers in the same way.

Don't Waste Time on Bad Relationships

If you need new employees or clients, go get them. DON'T DWELL ON ANY ONE EMPLOYEE OR CLIENT!