“Just say no.” That phrase was popular in the 1980s and 90s to help kids say no to illegal drug use. Today, I’m suggesting we just say “no” if a potential business opportunity is not a fit for you and your company.
Now this may strike you as a little odd since I’m usually writing about how we can be engaging in meaningful ways with our customers and prospects, essentially saying “yes” to helping them with their needs through our services and products. But I’m reminding you that sometimes it’s better to just say no.
I was involved in a recent situation where I needed the services of a professional with expertise in a field that I was not familiar with. I asked for a referral from someone in my network and they provided a name to me. This is what I usually do because I think people in my referral network know who I should be talking to in situations like this.
An introduction was made and the professional reached out to me to say he would be happy to help me with my issue. He sent me a form, I responded back to him by describing my very specific need, and he agreed to provide the service. I provided all the information requested and I later found out that the professional was complaining that providing me his service was “too much work” (and I imagine that also meant he wasn’t receiving enough money to make it worth his while).
Clearly, my business was too small of an account for him. He should’ve said no to me in the first place. If he had done that, I could’ve gotten another referral to someone who wanted my business. Plus, he wouldn’t have felt that he was wasting his time on my project. The upside was that he would have avoided appearing to me to be a lesser professional than he is.
Sometimes that lesson is learned by experience. It’s our 20th anniversary at Logos Communications and I can easily add that in our first year of business I wanted to say yes to everyone, and when I did that, I wasn’t always in the best position.
The next time a prospect or customer is engaging with you, remember to figure out whether you should be saying yes or no. Because in the end, your reputation is on the line.