This Week’s True Business Story: Excuses
“Robin,” he said firmly, “You only have yourself to blame. You ignored all the red flags.” My friend Errol was right; I had wasted three weeks pursuing a client who never intended to do business with me. Instead of telling me outright that he didn’t want to buy our services, this prospect made every excuse under the sun to avoid meetings and commitments. He showed up late, didn’t return calls and played the Gutless Game, as I call it. That’s the game played by people who don’t have the guts to say, “No.”
We should realize that we don’t need any particular customer or client. When you appear desperate, you simply hand them a stick to beat you with. When you excuse and ignore their lack of commitment and professionalism, you downgrade the value that you’re offering. Be very selective, set a high standard and don’t beg for business. You’re sorting and selecting which customers and vendors you choose to do business with. You’re in command. There’s only one of you and many of them.
There is usually no excuse for showing up late, not returning calls or not doing what you say you will do, when you say you will do it. When you see that kind of behavior, you’re seeing the red flag. I once asked a “Serial Excusiologist” this question: “If I had a million Dollar Check waiting here for you, would you be late for the appointment?” You don’t have to accept abuse and insults. You don’t have to discount your products and services. You don’t have to accept excuses. People who show up late, if at all, on a regular basis are sending you a message: “I don’t want to do business with you.” Or perhaps you don’t want to do business with him.
The best line I ever heard was a friend who used to say to prospective clients, “I don’t know if this is the right thing for you, of if you qualify for the criteria we have set for accepting your business, but I’m willing to take a few minutes to talk with you about how we can solve your problem of….” The old “Take Away” close still works and scarcity still sells. And you can do more with less. Choose quality instead of quantity and your bottom line will smile at you.