When to Just Say No

We’ve all had them. A proposal that goes nowhere—sometimes the very one you’ve worked the hardest to win! In this economy especially, you can’t afford to waste time with the wrong prospects. Consider these 3 signs that it’s time to decline to propose.

You can’t get them to their goal. A good advisor always starts by helping the client clearly articulate their goal(s). But if you can’t align your delivery with their vision (and reality), it’s a match doomed to failure. Better to make an effective referral under these circumstances–good for the client AND it builds goodwill for the future.

Their focus is on cost vs net results. Listen carefully when a potential client speaks about costs. Is their focus on fixing a cost issue? No problem—if you can help. But if their focus is on your fees independent of results, you haven’t demonstrated your value. They won’t hire you unless/until you can show them a clear win.

They haven’t tasted success. When most early conversations are littered with all the reasons why past projects or consultants didn’t work, beware. What about you—your team, your process—is going to truly produce success in their eyes? Ask yourself and ask them. If you can’t draw a straight line to their success, refer them to someone who can.

The conclusion? Time spent on no-win proposals is better spent developing your “sweet spot” clients.

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One Response to When to Just Say No

  1. gj-gorilla says:

    Sound advice; check us out at
    Found you through your posts to the AA&Co Alumni on LinkedIn.
    We are having issues with our revenue model in this market. We are a startup with one client; how can you help?

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