While it may be the same advice that Cosmo would give tween to twenty-somethings, the same wisdom can apply to business people. The purity of its truth can hit you like a truck on the freeway, and you’ll wonder how you never saw it coming before it hit you:
You don’t need them all.
All the sales. All the clients. You don’t need them. You need the ones that count. You need the ones that matter for you and your business.
Before you send yourself into a Chicken Little level frenzy insisting that the sky will indeed fall if you don’t capture every possible lead, close every potential customer, and convert every single pipeline prospect, let me explain why you can be choosy.
There are clients, deals, partnerships, and all kinds of business relationships that will end up costing you more than they benefit. Yes, you might eventually get your client to sign on for a two-year deal at an incredible price that makes you feel like you won the lottery. The problem is that what it took to get there cost you more than you could ever make up in profits. It cost your reputation or maybe your ethics or perhaps a few of your key people. Worse still, it could continue to cost you as long as that relationship exists. Your brand could suffer. The attention you pay to other customers and the energy you spend prospecting are sacrificed at the altar of a “big win”.
Soon, you’ll discover that while you may have won that million-dollar contract, it broke you. In the short time that contract was put together and held onto, the rest of your company came off the rails and dismantled.
While that example may be a bit extreme, there are reasons, other than avoiding business-Armageddon, to say no to some opportunities. If the client is going to be a huge time-suck and eternally unsatisfied, consider the eventual outcome. He or she is not happy. Unhappy people will talk loudly and often about their “miserable” experience with the “morons” they worked with. It’s like you just had someone pay you so they could actively campaign against you. Ouch. What if they are eventually satisfied? Great! Except the cost can still be quite high. Imagine that high-maintenance client refers you some new business. It will most likely be business from people that will make similar demands, and you’ve fallen into a black hole of constant work. Your employees will notice that lack of reprieve and their motivation, and consequently their production, will suffer.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a real estate agent, a car salesman, a cosmetologist, or anything in between; the universal truth is that when you say “no” to some clients, you are allowing yourself to say “yes” to others.
You’re not letting the least productive and most time consuming people dictate your future. You can decide if someone is worth the investment you will make in them. After all, this is a two-way relationship. So make sure you are not just finding clients, but finding the right clients that will perpetuate business in the way you have always planned.
So don’t feel obligated to say yes to an opportunity just because they decided to select your product or service. Make sure they are the catalyst to the kind of transaction you’d say yes to over and over again. That’s building your business. That’s determining your growth and shaping your future.