Identifying Good, and Not So Good Customers Using The Challenge Chart

Did you ever wonder why solving one problem for one customer while solving the same problem for a different customer can be a completely different experience? For example, one customer completely understands your proposal and quote and you can close the deal in twenty minutes. The next customer who, on the surface, is very similar to the last, can’t seem to make sense of what you are trying to help them with and the deal gets stuck in a series of follow-up emails, phone calls, and meetings. Did you do something wrong? Is there something wrong with the customer? Probably not. Customers come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their challenges. 


We want to make every sale that we can, but sometimes the buyer and seller are not a good fit for one another. In fact, if you have never brought on a customer that you later on kind of wish that you hadn’t, then you haven’t truly lived. The trick is how can we understand and manage these opportunities? The Challenge Chart is a good place to start. 


Basic  – These customers are no-brainers. They are your cash cows, lay-up shots, and gold mines. These customers are a dream to work with and you have exactly what they need. These customers are keepers.


Moderate –  Some customers are great to work with, but their issues may not be. Are you able to help them with their issue with a little extra time and effort, or is this something really out of your wheelhouse? Don’t be afraid to tell these customers ‘no’ if you can find a better solution for them outside of your existing services. 


Difficult – Perhaps you have exactly what the customer needs, but they are a headache to deal with. The real question with these customers is are you able to keep your sanity and profits. If you answer ‘yes’, keep them. If not, may it’s time to pass on this opportunity.


Complex – This customer makes your skin crawl, but you need sales so you listen to what they need. It doesn’t take long to figure out that this opportunity is riddled with more problems than you can solve. You may want to be the good guy and on paper, the sale may look good. However, this is nothing but trouble. Politely pass this one to another vendor, maybe a competitor that you don’t like too much if you know what I mean.


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