"Bad" Customers Exist
In business, there are good orders - and bad orders or customers whom you should not accept or should treat differently. Are you sacrificing time and resources on high maintenance, low/zero profit customers instead of focusing on your higher profit, loyal customer base? You should always consider whether to decline unreasonable terms and conditions. I’ve heard of demands for free software upgrades for life, 24 hour on-site response time to a secluded location without compensation, etc. You normally do not add a standard feature for only one user that would ruin the user experience and product for all other users. A prospect or buyer has every right, and perhaps an obligation, to make such demands. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s possible, reasonable, and mutually beneficial – and weigh the merits or costs.
The Promised Land of Milk, Honey, and Repeat Orders
You must also be vigilant of the prospect who dangles the promise of multiple repeat orders in the future based on you providing free upfront services, e.g. free testing/consulting, or making a sizeable product investment with no initial return. Unfortunately, some customers outright lie or don’t have real control or authority over expenditures. (Note that free testing or consulting can sometimes be an excellent sales vehicle. You just don’t want to be taken advantage of since it is not free to you. A possible alternative would be to charge for the testing or consulting and have the fee deducted after the order is placed.)
"Prospects" Who Always Ask for Quotes but Never Buy
Similar, you have the situation of customers loyal to a competitor but always asking you for a quote when it’s time for another purchase. They do this to keep the competitor on their toes and keep their quote price low. You end up like the boy who always gets used by the girl but never gets to go out with her (you’ll always be like a brother to her). The best way to react to such a “customer” is to be blunt about the past history and tell them that you will not invest valuable time and resources to provide a quote for such purposes or that you will give them a low effort, low price quote (that you will not honor) just to let them haggle with the competitor. I have seen prospects acknowledge the past history, explain why the current situation is different, tell us what we had to do to break into the account, and then actually make a purchase!
(These tactics are sometimes difficult for Sales because they don’t like to walk away from any possible sale. This may also not be applicable if circumstances have indeed changed, e.g. a new player at the company, disenchantment with the competitor, etc.)
Serve Your Customer - Just Don't Blindly Serve
Business is a reciprocal partnership and no business should lose money from an order unless for a strategic purpose. The customer is indeed King. Just choose your kings wisely.