There’s a tendency for business owners and entrepreneurs not to want to pass up the opportunity of a potential sale.
The famous saying attributed to Richard Branson goes something like, ‘If some one offers you an opportunity, say yes and think about how you’ll do it afterwards’.
There is good sense in this. You want to show confidence and enthusiasm to a prospective customer so making them aware of your immediate concerns is not the smartest sales tactic.
For lifestyle businesses too where the owner is the person delivering the service, saying yes and being positive at the outset is a good tactic. If it turns out on further investigation that it is not such a great idea you can always offer help in some other way. Perhaps refer the prospect on to someone in your network who would do a great job. That way you make two people happy and spread a little bit of goodwill.
Pricing specialist and business thought leader Ron Baker argues that ‘knowledge businesses’ - those that deliver value by means of their intellectual capital and ‘know-how’, should consider charging less if they gain new knowledge from a particular assignment. They may not make as much profit as on a more routine job but they have added to the bank of the firm’s knowledge which should be beneficial in the longer run.
In these challenging times, where sales and cashflow are at a premium, the inclination to say yes is greater than ever.
There are circumstances however where I believe that turning down a potential sale is the best thing to do. By all means try to refer the prospect on to someone else if you can, but sometimes it is better not to to proceed.
An example would be where the business has a clear niche where they do specialised and highly profitable work. Stepping out of that niche to exploit an opportunity will shift focus and resources from what the business already does very successfully. So it may not be the best approach.
Another instance where caution is recommended is where the new opportunity would require significant input from the owner. If this would shift their focus from managing their core business, the benefit from the potential new sale might not outweigh the costs.
Passion and enjoyment are also important. You may make money on a new assignment but if it doesn’t make you happy or inspire you, you may want to think twice.
So in many cases I would agree with the great man and saying, ‘Yes’ and going for it is the best approach.
Every now and then though, after reflection, a better way forward might be, ‘Thank you for the opportunity but we are not able to help you this time’.