Give your message momentum.
As we all work exceptionally hard to get over every crazy post covid obstacle, a common complaint is to be heard in entrepreneurial circles. It is rumoured that prospects are behaving in a more than suspect way.
Cast your mind back to twenty years ago, when, if an applicant was unsuccessful at an interview the company in question would consider it normal to write to all those that applied and even provide some feedback. As a child, I watched my father toil, through recessions, in a crowded job market. While it was frustrating for him not to get the job, not hearing back was the most difficult. There was no closure and the vain hope of getting the job lingered on until time bought its own conclusion.
I grew up and was fortunate enough to gain employment. Some of my friends were not as fortunate and were left in limbo. No answer. No reply. Ghosting was a thing even back then.
Now, for those that don’t know what ghosting means, or have never worked with narcissists, the practice of ghosting is denying anything happened, but in plain sight. You may indeed have had an interview, pitch or conversation but now you have been blanked. Such unhealthy practices are even finding themselves into the world of proposals (not for marriage, for contracts).
If we are all honest, the buying cycle is lengthening, budgets are stretched and decision making (as to when to invest) has become more of a step of faith. In this climate though, communication is everything. Sad to say that I’ve heard some lazy excuses, avoided some terrible opportunities, and been suckered into the game of the pitch (yes, some people enjoy the sport and commission no-one).
What’s wrong with being honest? Giving the real reason as to why now is not the right time for a project to commence is no shame. I am convinced that some people just get you to pitch to them without any intention of using your services and they aren’t going to tell you why not. So, if you have been frustrated by this happening to you, here’s a few hints and tips to avoid the chancers and ensure you stay working with the very best clients as opposed to being distracted by the worst ones!
When trying to win new projects, here are my five ‘foullest’ blags (lies) that deserve to be called out. Own the power to say no or indeed to say yes to the people that are willing to pay your worth!
The bogus budgeter:
Why would you not ask people upfront what their budget is? Those that ‘get it’ have done their research and have a clear budget. Those that do not have a budget could well be using you to leverage the best price. After all, shopping around should guarantee the best price, right?
You need to be braver than that. Don’t let people buy on price, buy on the value you add. Learn to demonstrate it. For instance, you can get a graphic designer to knock up a logo, but wouldn’t you want an award winning designer with 20 years experience to design it, especially if you are investing to build your legacy?
Use car examples as they make effective analogies. There are two ways to market your business. One by value, the other by differentiation. IF it’s value you want, then do it yourself or find a student who might want the opportunity (yes, Nike really did get a logo design for $35) but that was more luck than judgment. However, if it’s differentiation then you will need to invest in it.
It really is the difference between a Nissan with 100 extras verses a BMW with limited extras but the ultimate driving experience. One will start falling apart within 4 years and the other will comfortably go round the clock ten years on!
Look at it this way, when people say they don’t have a budget, gently float some real figures into the conversation and reactions will speak more loudly than words. I have always said people that can’t afford your services often have a ‘belief problem’ and that is why you should make sure you have an exceptional website with a track record displayed and a network of associates and clients happy to refer you that inspire belief.
Often, when a budget is out of reach, the individual that is trying to buy may have a belief problem about pulling it off. Your job is to show them you can be the perfect partner. I remembered being turned down to build an app when our connections would have opened so many doors, yet the partner of the business founder didn’t believe in them enough to trust them with the budget.
Now, I’m sure they’ll go lean and do it for cheaper, but they’ve lost 9 months already and in app terms that could be light years. It was the right time, and the costs were right, but the dream will sadly live on in the imagination of the founder and partner, happy with their nest egg. It’s a fact that inflation can steal nest eggs and they were robbed of the opportunity to build an inflation busting idea.
The big shot
This makes me laugh, a lot. The big shot with the big contract that never quite materialises. The big gun who thinks they are the top gun. You know, the business maverick that is on an upward quest and wants you to join the journey, share the risk, or truth be told, you take ALL the risk and they take all the rewards. Here is a rule to help you, those that have the most to say often have the least to invest. So pay attention. You want words with substance and a budget for sustenance.
I remember taking on a client in our early days who quite simply worked themselves across the whole of Bristol looking for deals. Having watched a few motivational speakers, they bought the book and adopted the persona of someone who owned a jet, Cre8ion were the team (just like the 12 before us we found out, later) that could make things happen.
We invested hours and hours to go the extra mile, yet nothing was good enough. Lines were crossed, staff started getting weird text messages at odd times and life was getting more than uncomfortable. So we told them quite simply that we were not the right fit and handed everything over to the next poor victim (telling them to make sure they documented everything).
Were there red flags? Yes. Basically, I failed to see how the endless victim stories had a common theme. In my need to ‘fix’ and ‘help’ I believed I could help when others couldn’t.
A bigger project pitcher should have credibility and today I have enough people around me who are willing to call it out. In fact, one of my close associates did, but my need to fix things was greater. As a result, the both of us together do a lot of ‘bigger picture’ projects that have come off spectacularly. I rarely do those type of projects without my associate involved somewhere down the line.
The ‘small company’ syndrome:
Small doesn’t always mean unprofitable. Yes, we’ve had people in the past say they’re a start up and can we do it for cheap? Out the kindness of our hearts we helped only for them to then brag on their social feeds about their latest kitchen refit (true story).
This is where the prospects tugs on your heart strings for a deal, only you’ll be the one left paying the highest price. Often, these are people you first worked with that can’t see you beyond where you started. Now, Cre8ion have some great long term relationships with client companies but they have understood that with growth comes change.
Listen, we have all been there, where tough times required us to do favours, but if it becomes a habit of favours, you might have got caught up in a cycle of being devalued – exit at the earliest opportunity! How? Charge what you are worth. If they leave, then you’re free, if they stay, stick to your guns and never do it again. You are worth so much more!
They have zero intention of paying you what you’re worth, even though you have a proven track record. They want to drive the sports car with no fuel. The only thing that gets exposed with these type of people is their questionable business practices. People talk and although reputation takes years to build, a few choice words can cause it to disappear. Now, we are not against ‘seed’ projects BUT we must know you first. With people we know and trust, doors have opened with seed projects that have been nothing short of phenomenal and we were happy to take the risk.
When we take on a seed project we are both taking a risk and if that risk is a shared one we are happy. Don’t ask for us to take ALL the risk for 20% of the commission!
While our processes make things simple, a simple job doesn’t exist. As long as there are humans involved and tech, then there will be challenges. Ensure you have the detail, and if they don’t have it, the job will be far from simple. The more detail you get, the simpler the task in hand. Now, if that person is teachable and is ready to go through our proven processes, the journey will indeed be a simpler one.
Yes, every project has the odd challenge, where people are trying to get their team to choose a logo for example (again, the more people you show, the harder it becomes, by the way). Real professionals make the complex simple!
So, keep your processes simple but recognise that, as long as there are humans involved, there will always be some complexity.
The ‘short sighted’ visionary
While a lot of my networking has actually produced the first of many projects, sadly, a few have slipped through the net. I’ve recognised the signs, and asked those that have worked with people previously.
The ‘first of many projects’ type of people are trying to make a quick win, rather than a relationship and for us, a genuine first of many projects is built around trust. So, if you have a proposal for the long term, then we want to work with you long term.
Comments like, ‘I don’t know what I want, but tell you when I see it’, set the alarm bells off. We are expert technicians, but not magicians. We have taken potential clients through the Purpose Playbook to help them to find out what they really want and then they become clear on why they need to spend.
Thankfully, we have nurtured those relationships and have built some incredible things together over the years. One of our clients in the education sector basically opened the door to our schools arm of the business. We are happy to take ‘a step of faith’ once we have done our due diligence.
If you are a visionary, we love working with you, and if you are unclear, then why not go through our Purpose Playbook and get the clarity you need to build something special?
Not a lot surprises me anymore but one of the hardest things to get my head around is the professional ghost. You do your due diligence and they appear to be genuine. They give you the impression everything is in place and then they ghost you. No reply, even though they are reading your emails, and the follow-ups.
Rejection is part of the journey, but unjustified ghosting? Personally, that hits me the hardest, especially when I know I can deliver, and deliver well. The reason I find it so difficult is that it reminds me of what my father went through.
The ghosted person is left frustrated and devalued, having wasted a lot of invested time. Ghosting seems to have become an accepted part of the pitching process but I think that it is a clear indication of a lack of ethics. Do you need this in your life?
Tough times craft tough people, but rather than becoming battle hardened, learn to appreciate your people. Your people share your values, don’t waste time with those that don’t. Experience begins to reveal who you can and who you can’t trust.
We are a B-Corp and that tells you about who we are and what motivates us. Basically, the people on board at Cre8ion are exceptional people committed to doing good and changing the landscape for the better.
The possibilities are infinite.
Imagine being able to work with your dream clients. That’s right. The ones with whom you can make the most impact, the ones that excite and fuel your business growth. Our special ONE day ‘on site workshop’ allows you to discover what is in your heart, and begin to look for those meaningful connections that are clearly the right fit.
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When you tell the right story, you will get the right enquiry. To be unique in the marketplace, the product or service needs to be good but the real strategy lies in a clear story. Contact us today to start writing yours.
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