I was approached today by a business coaching prospect who wanted me to help her form relationships with international buyers in the agricultural market space.
I'm sure I could have done some research and figured it out eventually, but instead, I replied almost immediately, “I'm afraid that's outside my field of expertise.”
“I'm afraid that's outside my field of expertise.”
Another lady put in an application stating, “I am looking to scale my business and focus my efforts.” I asked a few more qualifying questions to determine where her problems were then called as soon as I decided it was a good fit.
Why would I respond in a way that immediately terminated the relationship with that first prospect yet pick up the phone and call the second?
Stop Wasting Time on One-Off Deals
If you want to scale and become known as an expert at what you do, you need to stop doing a lot of one-off deals that don't match the services you provide. I'm not in the business of negotiating international trade deals for customers, so I fired the first prospect. She'll be better off finding someone who does specialize in that, and I'll save those last few hairs on my head that I have left by not taking on a project I will have to spend days researching.
That act freed me up to call the second lady, who I can help.
Focus to Grow
Businesses and people grow by doing the same thing over and over enough times that they get good and fast at it. Businesses fail when they try to be everything for everybody, especially when they are still small. Even massive businesses like Walmart provide only a limited number of services, and the larger the business grows, the more specialized each individual gets.
If I visited my accountant and she came out of the attached garage with oil on her hands from doing an oil change for another customer, I'd be worried. You don't go to your accountant for an oil change, or to a mechanic to get your taxes done.
Learn to say no when your prospects ask for something that you don't do. If I had gotten on the phone with that first lady thinking that maybe I could come up with a way to fix her problem, I might not have had time for the second. Stop wasting your and your prospect's time as soon as you know they're not a good fit, and you'll find that you have time for the ones who you can help.
About the Author
Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, is the founder of this site, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.
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