Why Labeling Clients is Bad for Business

“Once you label me you negate me.” – Soren Kierkegaard

We are a culture obsessed with labels – from the ones displayed on our designer jeans to the titles we use in the workplace to distinguish higher-ups from entry-level employees. Categorizing people, places, and objects is a way of simplifying our lives, of easily defining who is who and compartmentalizing them in our minds.

But labels are also risky – they make us inclined to expect certain behavior from certain people, which can cause us to project negative attitudes onto them. I see this happening a lot in the world of business. Oftentimes, business and sales people might judge their clients before much interaction has even taken place. It’s not something I’m proud to admit happens in the sector, but it’s a reality, and labels like “annoying,” “needy,” and “high-maintenance” might get tossed around as descriptors for clients with specific needs.

Usually, I find that applying such labels has a guarantee of making them come true – they are self-fulfilling prophecies, so to speak. If you dread dealing with a client because you regard them as any of the aforementioned problematic labels, then it makes sense that they are going to seem annoying, needy, and high-maintenance. This, I think, is what Kierkegaard was getting at in his famous quote – assigning a label has a way of automatically nullifying who an individual is beyond the classification. That is to say that all other distinctive aspects of a person fade away so that the label takes precedence.

Needless to say, this only makes doing business more difficult, which is why I’d like to propose a challenge: leave the labels behind. Rather than ascribing strict designating terms to people, think of your prospects more generally: as an opportunity to help someone. I guarantee it’ll make your interactions with clients more pleasant, and your attitude about working with them much more positive.

At Springboard, our sales team is committed to letting go of labels, and our resulting positive approach to sales makes our business development successful, expanding your company with our outsourced services.

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