Make Breaking Up Hard to Do

Nick was at his wits’ end. What else could he do? Three months earlier, his customer Derek called to express his dissatisfaction and had asked to get out of the contract he’d signed. Nick listened to his complaints and convinced Derek to give him 90 days to get them fixed. They had even agreed on a set of metrics that, if met, would mean Derek would continue the contract.

Nick got his support team together and went to work. They gave it everything. “As hard as we ever worked to save an account,” Nick said later. “We went way beyond what we had to do and I met with Derek every week to review the results. We were measuring everything, but despite the number I was showing him at each meeting, he’d say we were still failing.”

Nick’s team hunkered down and worked even harder, but after 60 days Nick realized he was getting nowhere. “The more the facts supported that we were delivering on our promise, the harder he pushed back. Frankly, he started acting like real jerk. He wasn’t even listening. I realized that he never had any intention to living up to his commitment. It made me angry that we’d put that much effort into saving the account and he treated us like this. I resisted the desire to call Derek up and tell him exactly what I thought of him.”

Nick did call Derek but instead of telling him off, he told Derek that he would let him out of his contract early. Derek thanked him and that was that until Nick’s phone rang eight months later. “It was Derek. ...

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