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WHEN YOUR BUSINESS is young, you naturally welcome every new customer with open arms so you can find your footing, but too many business owners have trouble breaking that pattern even after their businesses are more established. If the “say yes to everything” mentality trickles down to the front line sales team, it can be a serious problem. If you’re not careful, this can even be a death sentence to your business. What if you could tell a prospective customer no, and actually make more money than if you’d agreed to the partnership? If you’re a service provider, then that is likely the case more often than you realize. Customers that aren’t a good fit can be a drain on your team, your reputation and ultimately, your profitability. However, you must be proactively seeking out ideal customers, not simply reacting exclusively to inbound prospects, to be able to say no with confidence. A good balance of inbound and outbound prospecting activity is essential for the health of your business. Empowering your team to more carefully scrutinize new customers starts with defining the characteristics of a great customer. Great customers vary by business, but your definition could start by including an assessment of cultural fit, whether you can make a real difference for this customer, whether the work you’ll do for this prospective customer leverages your organization’s strongest assets, and whether you’ll be paid fairly for your team’s efforts. Next, determine what qualifying questions you’ll consistently ask prospects to determine if they’re a good fit for your firm, and provide those questions to your entire sales team. If your sales team is on the fence about a prospective customer after an initial qualifying interview, encourage the team to debrief the opportunity with other colleagues for a gut check. When you do need to decline work from a prospective customer, doing so with grace will lead to respect in the marketplace. However, never burn a bridge. Help your prospect see why a different company might be a better fit for his current needs. Offer specific companies that you’d recommend. Consider going above and beyond by making an initial introduction to another business. Saying no doesn’t have to end the relationship. If you handle this interaction with kindness and assist the prospect in finding a more suitable partner, you’ll benefit from referrals and positive word of mouth — and who knows, there may come a time down the road when that same prospect is a good fit for your company after all.

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RedRover Sales & Marketing

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