In the Indianapolis metropolitan area, there are 65,000 companies with sales under $1 million. 65,000! The reality is I can’t serve all these small businesses.
To use my time well, and do the right thing for my clients, sometimes the best thing to do is to turn the project over to a competitor. I know that sounds crazy, giving up a project especially, in a tough economy, but when it isn’t a fit, I have learned it is better to walk away.
Seth Godin had a great post recently on this topic. He argued passing a project to someone else better prepared to handle it will actually raise your image with that client. He said:
This is when you earn the right to be seen as a trusted adviser, not a self-interested shill. Two months or two years from now, when you interact with that person or organization again, he’ll remember that you were the one who spoke up on behalf of the competition, the one who helped us find a better fit, the clearly disinterested adviser who helped us choose between the two remaining good choices.
To make good suggestions, I work hard to get to know my competitors. I understand their weakness and their strengths so I can pick the best candidate for my client. I have good working relationships with companies like SpinWeb, Miles Design, and Deep Ripples. Each of these companies are best in class, and beyond their skills, I know they will treat my prospect the way I would have .
I am in this business for the long haul. So if I miss one sale, but in doing so, I establish my self as a trusted adviser I know it will be worth it in the long run.