Let's get real. What's the better scenario out of the following?
a. You refer a client to a business that can help them and they're happy.
b. Or you fear losing the customer so you try to please them and fail.
Don't be afraid to refer. This stands you in good stead with other businesses and with the customer. You will very likely get referrals back and the customer will be more likely to come back to you for the things you can provide as you have shown yourself to be obliging and professionally generous. These are good qualities and they prove to the customer that you had their interests at heart not your own.
There are three rules you can follow to help you avoid the 'No' problem. These are really designed to help you act in a more assertive way. This will ultimately lead to you generating better business contacts, sounder relationships with clients and a business that does exactly what it says it will.
Before entering into an agreement with a client consider the following things:
- Make sure the task is something you are contractually obliged to carry out. If it isn't then you have room to think and room to make the Yes or No decision.
- Do you want to do the task? If you are bordering on saying yes, be sure you re not just doing so in order to play Mr or Miss Nice!
- Whose problem is this? Is it yours or the client's? If something is so far out of your reach then it might be better if you assist the client in finding a more suitable contact. Remember, don't be afraid to refer.
Be prepared to say No. Sometimes we say yes when we should say no because we are caught unawares. Have a list of stock in trade responses that you can pull out of the hat when faced with dilemmas like this.
1. My diary is fully booked at the moment.
2. Right now we have several large projects on the go so would be unable to give full attention to yours.
3. I don't have full experience in that area, but I do know an excellent firm that does. I can give you their details. Tell Bob/Fred/Janet I sent you.
Being honest really can pay dividends with customers. Word of mouth is still a strong from of promotion. Far better that you refer someone to 'a man who can' than be forever labeled the one who couldn't and didn't. Good news travels fast, but bad news travels even faster. Bad publicity for you business is not good news. Say no if you think there's the slightest risk of you letting yourself and your customer down.
The old adage that column inches are column inches and that even bad publicity is good is rubbish when it comes to business. Unfortunately, people are much more likely to be the noisy squeaky wheel when they have been disappointed with you than they are to run around extolling your virtues when they are pleased with what you have provided for them.