One of the hardest things in business is to turn down a sale.
But if you rarely do this, you'll never really build a solid foundation for your business. As Stephen Covey says in his Sixth Habit: "Win/win or no deal." And sometimes if you make a sale, it will be win/lose, lose/win or lose/lose.
I just turned down a sale today. I talked to someone who wanted to be in my Certification Program and I recommended that he take a different course of action.
He really wanted to get into marketing coaching but his current business and financial situation were less than ideal. He was about to go into a full time job and then wanted to transition into being a marketing coach.
I won't go into all the details, but bottom line, I turned him down because his likelihood of succeeding at this point was not high.
And anytime you accept a client or project where the chances of success are not good, it's a set-up for a lose/lose situation. Your client would lose because they wouldn't get the result they contracted for and you would lose by damaging your reputation.
When you are engaged in the selling process and negotiating the terms of the deal, unfortunately, it's easy to lose sight of this. And as you know, it's all too common to use some kind of manipulation to get the business. That's a "you win/client loses deal."
On the other hand, if you put yourself in a position where you feel you are begging for the business and make all kinds of concessions, then it can end up as a "you lose/client wins deal."
Only a win/win deal should be acceptable.
How do you create a foundation for win/win deals? Two very simple but powerful things:
1. Results-Oriented Services
Make sure your services are designed to produce results when performed under normal conditions. This might sound funny to you, but the truth is, many services are structured to only produce results under perfect conditions. And since conditions are rarely perfect, you'll end up with a lot of disappointed clients.
For instance lot of programs are presented like this: "If your people are motivated, and if the management provides the support, and if you follow our advice to the letter, you will get results with this program."
That's a lot of ifs, and it's easy to underplay them and focus on the potential results (which are rarely produced).
Instead, you need to offer a service that removes the ifs and substitutes "requirements of the engagement." For instance, in my Certification Program you must participate in all sessions for a full year in order to get certified. There are no ifs.
Design your own requirements for engagement and stick to them.
2. Well-Qualified Clients
Clearly define an ideal, qualified client for your services. If you're willing to sell to anyone who can pay your bill, the chances of success plummet. You need to have a list of qualifications and stick to them. Actually communicate these qualifications in detail on your web site: "Clients who succeed with us are..."
Spend as much time as you need qualifying your prospects. And in every conversation with a prospect, emphasize that "We work with clients who..." You'll waste a lot less time trying to sell to prospects who are not right for you, and you'll get out of the self-destructive begging mindset.
Start by listing: a) the problems and challenges of an idea client, b) the aspirations of this client and c) any other qualifications required to increase your clients' chances of success.
Sure, you still need to implement marketing-oriented outreach activities that increase your visibility and educate your prospects about what you do, but if you don't build this solid win/win foundation first, your business will never take off.
It all starts with this question: "What do I need to do to consistently create win/wins with my clients?"
The More Clients bottom line: If you make it a priority to deliver a results-oriented service and carefully qualify your prospects, your success rate will go up dramatically. You'll then get testimonials, develop case studies and generate more word-of-mouth business.
How do you make sure all your deals are win/win? Please share on the More Clients Blog.