No matter what you offer in your business, at their disposal, your clients always have two answers. Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. And that is ok. Whatever they pick, get ready to deal with it. Or you can kiss the profits goodbye.
Loathe at First Sight
“When he spoke, something about his voice told Fixer the drama was just getting started. He had booked the apartment for a whopping 14 days. Juicy!
Fixer had not experienced such luck in ages. Read that as, never in his six months of running the BnB business.
‘Such a breakthrough!’ Fixer had whispered at the sight of the request on Airbnb.com
But Harvey had checked in with his best friend and disliked the apartment. Speak of loathe at first sight. Maybe it was the evening heat. Or the slow queue he had to endure at the supermarket a few minutes earlier while trying to buy dinner. Or maybe it really was the missing Netflix subscription despite the smart TV rushing to YouTube upon turning on.
It could have been anything. But whatever it was, Harvey was pissed off and ready to check out. An about-turn Fixer had not anticipated. What really had he committed to in their WhatsApp call the previous week?
He tried recalling the squiggly shape of the letters in the chat and the call that ensued. Fridge? Check. Couch? Check. Microwave? Check. Mosquito net? Obvious. Carpet. Wi-Fi. Natural light. Check. Check. And check!
For goodness sake, Harvey had approved of every photo Fixer shared. He had in fact fallen in love with the apartment, in his words.
But what had they agreed about the Netflix subscription?”
Sometimes You Win. Sometimes You Let Go
If you run a business, aka fixing other people’s problems, and in the process your own, you may have experienced Fixer’s agony at least once. And if you are like Fixer, as much as you do not like the back and forth, sometimes you come across a client who likes everything you offer except that one detail.
Play around with the price tag to save the day?
Running a business is not always fun. Sometimes you win, sometimes you let go. And that is ok. I have lived by this mantra for as long as I can remember. It has saved me the agony of watching a client walk away after the goodbyes. It has also helped me to ask the golden question, “Yes, it is a loss bearing the lost marketing capital, time and excitement, but what can I learn from it?”
If like Fixer you find yourself stuck in trying to remember what the client asked and how you responded, you are left with only one way out. To find the evidence. And even then, if the client’s temperatures are up, the chances of them cancelling are Everest high.
And that is when the, ‘Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.’ presses your sobriety button. This is a call not to make any financial decisions. Such demand lower temperatures.
Sober Up. Then Ask
I have found that stating the evidence in a calm voice and then posing the golden question keeps me standing. Instead of offering a discount that could compromise the business, I state the evidence and then ask, “Would you still like me to be your fixer?”
And if the client says, ‘No’, I wish them well and let them go.
Here is why.
Sometimes, we fixers feel like we must solve everybody’s problem. Worse still, like everyone must accept our products even if we make losses in the process. We lean on such ‘wisdom’ in the name of retaining clients. Not only is that miles away from the truth, but I find it maddening!
Lest you forget, the solution you offer to solve people’s problems can only qualify for a business if it makes a profit for the owner. You. Otherwise, thanks for your charitable offer.
Do you find that controversial?
Be my guest. I learned that the hard way after I saw three of my businesses come down crumbling like a pack of cards. Until I decided to business-woman up!
The truth is, I want my clients to be happy just as I am happy onboarding them. But not at the expense of my happiness. I want us to be on the same side enjoying doing business with each other.
I do not want to rob my clients. And neither do I want them to rob me. I am for a win-win all the way. And yes, that exists. And no, it is not famous. It is audacious. And it only works when I insist on it and discipline myself to go for it. In the end, it earns me and every fixer a friend in the client. After all, this is what business is all about, building strong profitable relationships on both sides of the scale.
Lest you forget, a compromise leading to a loss has no business nerve in it.
So when my client feels that my offer is not up to their standard and I know I have done my best exhausting every option to make them comfortable, I choose not to compromise the price. And I let go. However, I seek to learn the lesson behind the goodbye and implement it.
Such a lesson could entail editing my online copy to make the message about my product clear to my target clients. Or recording every conversation with the client so I can through it again before onboarding a client.
Goodbyes help me gauge if the client really was within the segment of my target clients.
Before the goodbyes, however, I create an atmosphere for discussion. If I am in the wrong, maybe because I used words that led the client to settle for the wrong product, I apologize. Then I let them make the decision, to buy, or not to buy. And I accept their choice with respect.
As long as the picture in the client’s mind does not match my offer, and they are not ready to go for what I have, proceeding with the transaction hurts both of us.
But if I am right and the client chooses to leave, maybe because of other unspoken reasons, I observe. There is no shame in wishing them well as they shop away. But there is a pain in toning down the price in the name of saving a sale. If you do it once, you will do it again. And soon you will have to close shop because you could not keep up with your business’s overheads.
Yes, I want to please my clients. I want them to enjoy the solutions I create for them and win. But I also want to be happy as I make them happy.
An enthusiastic ‘Yes!’ is the answer I long for every time I pitch my product to you dear client. It is the answer I want to see written on the sun when it peeks in the eastern sky. It is the reason I get out of bed. It is my dream and my goal all bundled in one. But I am not oblivious of the possible incompatibility between you and me birthing a painful ‘no’. And when that happens, I create a space for a respect-filled goodbye.
That respect saves me the loss from a rushed discount. And it saves you the agony of paying for half the offer you deserve. Or that of enduring it. Because every coin counts. So if you have to stay in business, swallow this, ‘No’ is as much an answer as ‘Yes’. Sometimes Yes. Sometimes No. And both answers are okay.