Ask any business owner about sales, and they’ll tell you they want more of them.  But getting the right sales is just as important.

When a prospect presents a new challenge or requirement that we haven’t dealt with before, it’s tempting to jump in with “sure, we can do that!”

We’re all guilty of it.  We see the prospect has a need.  We know we can help, and we want to.  But this is a trap.

A Strong Maybe

If a request is outside of your current range of experience, pause before committing.  Questions to ask yourself that should shape your decision:

  • Is this project aligned with strategic expansion of services? (Into new industries, geographies, product areas, etc.)
  • How much information gathering and training will the team need to do to get up to speed?
  • What resources are currently available to work on this project?
  • What resources have capacity over the next several months?
  • Is the team excited about delivering this project?
  • What’s an acceptable profit margin?
  • What’s the cost of botching the delivery of this solution?
  • What other projects could we be working on if we turned this opportunity down?

If a new project is aligned with strategic expansion into new verticals, products, or services — great.  If not, carefully consider what resources may be required and what information or skills the team will need to learn. 

And of course, price accordingly.  If the skills / information gathered is unique to this particular client and won’t benefit future projects, this should absolutely be covered in the scope of the proposal.

When it’s just not a fit

If the client isn’t a strong match for your skills and expertise, better to walk away from the project.  More often than not, taking this on is a losing proposition – you will stretch your resources thin, frustrate staff members, and watch your profits dissolve before your eyes.

There are opportunity costs at play here as well.  Every minute you spend on a project outside of your wheelhouse is a minute you’re held back from doing your best work for your ideal clients.

If you’re going to let me down, let me down gently…

You can turn down a project and still leave the door open to opportunity, if you approach the conversation with tact and honesty. 

For example, you could politely offer the prospect an alternative:

“Thank you so much for your interest in partnering with us on this project.  From what I’ve learned about your team and goals, I don’t believe our product is the best solution for you. I recommend ________, because _________.”  

This approach builds credibility, trust, and goodwill.  The prospect will likely remember that the next time they’re looking for a partner or when someone in their network asks for a referral.

Finding the Right Fit Projects

Knowing the best projects to take on – and when to take them – is the starting point for attracting more of your ideal customers.  Shameless plug: our product Project Pulse does that really, really well.

What other ways does your organization find ideal projects?  How do you typically respond to requests for products or services you haven’t yet delivered?  Let us know in the comments!