I was at a networking event once where a gentleman stood up to introduce himself. He said something like:
“I’m Bob from Insurance Company. We can help with your auto insurance, homeowners insurance, health insurance, life insurance, renter’s insurance, travel insurance, pet insurance, motorcycle insurance…” and on and on.
I’m not saying that a wide breadth of services is a bad thing, but it made me feel like he was an expert in nothing. If I need the person to help me feel great about my new auto policy, he’s not the guy. In fact, being able to turn down a particular area of work will make the rest of your offerings feel more solid.
“If you don’t say no, your yes is meaningless.”
I’ve discovered that to be true in our business, sort of by mistake.
We recently had a client that said “We really need a company that can build our new website and also do X for us“.
We said we’d love to help with the new site, but X is something we just don’t do and he’d be better off finding a company that can do a great job with both. We hated to lose the business, but wanted what was right for him.
He later found a company that could do X for him, and came back excited to build his new site with us because he knew that we were (likely) not bluffing about our skills there. Our “no” made it easier for him to trust us.
It goes both ways
I’ve seen Bobby Kircher at Papaya Search turn down work, because their target is on Google Ads. They’re awesome at it, and they stay focused.
I’ve seen Jay Brimberry at EY Studios turn down work, because they focus exclusively on eCommerce websites.
Both companies are thriving, because people can see the “no” and therefore give much more trust when they hear a “yes”. They’ve both sent clients to GreenMellen in the past (because it was a better fit for us), and I know for sure who to trust when it comes to complex Google Ads or eCommerce work.
Easier said than done
Of course, it’s hard to say no to potential work, particularly when times are tough. In the past, I’ve certainly said yes to clients that I should have sent to someone else that would have been a better fit.
There are three benefits to sending those kinds of referrals to people that you trust:
- The client will get a better result from it.
- You won’t find yourself in a project that isn’t a good fit.
- People will see your “no” and have a better understanding of what you do.
In Jay’s case in particular, when he’s called me with leads in the past, he’s always said something like “These are great folks and they need a new site, but we just focus on eCommerce and that’s not their need for now.“
He’s taking care of his clients, doing a kind thing for us, and offering both parties a quick reminder about what they do best. That’s a great way to do it.