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How Turning Down Business Can Lead To More Business

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BizyDad

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You may already know I run a search engine marketing agency. We are a 99% referral shop, and we only take on at most 3 new marketing clients a month. This might change soon, but historically, I turn down most leads that come my way.

I did it again today, and I want to share the story to maybe get your gears turning, because turning away business is one of my favorite ways to get more referrals. Here's some more ideas.

There are several reasons why I might turn someone away:
  1. I already have a client in that industry+geography and we don't compete with ourselves for rankings
  2. There's not enough search traffic for the prospect's offering to make an SEM campaign profitable
  3. The prospect is putting out PITA vibes (pain in the...)
  4. The prospect needs a bigger agency than my own
But even when I plan to turn someone away, I almost always meet with them and provide value.

Our first meeting was a phone meeting last week. I do a fair bit of fact finding. My goal is to get a sense of their current goal for SEM, what is their history with SEM, what other marketing they do, and what they charge for services. Having accomplished that, I set a follow up meeting (which happened today).

In between I do some research, and I prep the client that in our next meeting I will either lay out a marketing plan, or I will give them reasons why we shouldn't do business (which always takes them by surprise, so I usually mention reason #2 as an example of why we might not do business). I tell them I don't want you to hire me if I know we can't get you results.

Side note, that's my typical sales process. Newbies running a consulting/marketing firm, feel free to try it. If nothing else, that second meeting gives you a bit more credibility in their eyes because you went and did research on them. There are several more benefits, but that's another topic for another day.

As a little background, today's prospect was referred to me by one of my top clients, who is a trusted thought leader in her industry and raves about me, so he was already predisposed to liking me. She is great, but I often have to tone down expectations with her referrals. So this guy today is a lifetime entrepreneur who had spent the last 10 years in tech. He is launching a new venture in a space I am unfamiliar with, but has a large market & growth potential. I really enjoy these kinds of clients because part of the reason I do what I do is to keep growing my knowledge of other business structures/models. So to learn a whole new niche industry is a treat.

The only real "drawback" is the client has a low price point, and that makes certain tactics challenging, but I suspected I could find profitable keyword phrases for him because there is recurring revenue potential built in.

As I said, the guy is in tech, so he felt he had a "good working knowledge" of SEM. And at the end of the call, he said to me, "In all my many meetings, I've never heard of anyone who approached SEO the way you do. But this all makes so much sense. I'm really looking forward to hearing the results of your research." I really wanted to work with this guy; I got off the call ready to make an offer he couldn't refuse.

In between our meetings I did my research. And my heart sank a bit.

When I examined the numbers I learned that this industry was much more competitive than I had imagined. Looking at the numbers, it made sense after the fact, but going in I really had no idea. This niche is too competitive for my style of SEO to deliver timely results. And because of the low margins, I didn't think running ads would prove profitable. Frankly, of the 4 reasons I turn down business, this is the least common for me.

So I started today's meeting by saying to the client and his team, "This is going to be one of those meetings where I tell you not to hire me, but that you need a larger and maybe a more specialized SEO agency."

Then I just went through all the research I did to prepare for the meeting. I gave him the kinds of questions to ask when hiring the bigger agency to make sure he finds a good one. Along the way I gave them 5 more marketing ideas/tactics they could use whether they hire another agency or not, including ideas unrelated to my specialization.

Just before we wrapped the meeting, the prospect says to me, "Wow, I can't believe you've spent an hour showing us all this work only to tell us we shouldn't hire you. I really want to work with you, so how does this sound..." Long story short, I left with information on his 2 more established businesses. Both have the ability to pay at least twice what I would have charged this one out of the gate. And this time I again suspect the numbers will be more in keeping with the kind of business my team can actually deliver results for.

AND he wants me to meet his doctor friend who also needs an SEM strategy.

3 quality leads in one "this is going nowhere" meeting.

That's one way how turning down business leads to more business. I have many stories like this, and if you have another moment I'd like to share my new favorite.

This story starts like 8 years ago or so. Just like the last story, this was a two step sales process. Prospect referred to me by a top client. This guy was the Director of Marketing for his brother's large agricultural business. In our first meeting he told me he had $3k budget he "needed" to spend. For our second meeting he invited me to a networking event where I randomly saw an ex-girlfriend* and ultimately signed another client from that group.

But I turned away his business (this time for reason #2).

He asked if he raised the budget number, would that make a difference?

After a 2 second pause where I considered burning my ethics to the ground, I told him he should just forget about SEO as a marketing tactic because farmers weren't Googling for what he offered. He was surprised, this was a multi-million dollar company with many well-known clients, but his brother had told him the same thing. He understood once I showed him the data.

Turning away $3000+ per month was not easy. I was coming out of some really tough years and at that point in my agency I hadn't signed a client that large. Still, it was the right thing to do.

18 months later he calls me up again. He had left his brother's company and bought an ecommerce store. Would I please help him, he was in over his head. I told him I don't normally take on ecommerce clients, but I'd be happy to at least look at what was going on and do my research. Worst case, I'd again give him some free advice.

Well, again my assumption going in was wrong, and this client had a niche where I could indeed help him. And for the last 6 years I've enjoyed helping him grow his business. Along the way, I've shown up at his office regularly. I've gotten to know his staff and his family. After the first year he started paying me a performance bonus. Pretty sweet deal.

Then COVID hit, and revenues shrank. He decides to accelerate his retirement plan. He calls me up one day back in February to share the new vision. Instead of retiring in 3 years, he wanted to retire in 6 months. And would I be interested in buying his business? This surprised me because we always talked about the possibility of my owning a piece of the business, but his son was the obvious choice to take it over. Then a week later, he flies out to Texas and buys a boat (and doesn't come back for 3 months!!)

So I approach his son. I ask why he isn't buying it, and he replies he's scared of crashing the business. He doesn't have a business background and doesn't trust himself with this. Long story short, we concoct a plan to buy it together. I knew I didn't have the time to run it on my own, and hiring and training the right sales person would prove difficult for me time-wise & knowledge-wise. So partnering with him was my goal.

I'll continue to fulfill the role of marketing and de-facto business coach, and he'll continue to handle the primary sales and managing of the team. We've been working together for the last 3 years, and he has often referred to me as his "boss" even though I viewed myself as his "consigliere", but I pointed out that ultimately, not too much would actually change in his day to day. I asked him to envision the alternative. What's that look like?

Filling out resume after resume only to go back to his previous career, he said.

Waiting for the next layoff? Punching a clock where someone else sets the schedule?

Pretty much, he said. Initially he was skeptical, but after a week he was "on board" with partnership.

We've spent the last 6 months running it as a trial to see how thing will go (and to ensure we can recover lost growth). In that time, the dad has been 100% hands off, and our sales have recovered sufficiently that everyone feels good taking the next steps. And my hopefully-soon-to-be partner has really stepped into his new role of running his side of things. He and I have shown to each other how smooth this can continue to be.

BONUS - the father has lowered his asking price for the business and offered to carry back a bigger chunk of the purchase price. In his words, "I want you two to have it and run it. I know I can get more selling it elsewhere, but I want you two to have it. Let's get this figured out." At that point, this has become close to a no-brainer for me.

I have a meeting with the family this Thursday to begin to formalize the terms of this new arrangement. If everything goes as expected, and even if the company sales just stay stable, I should double my investment in 3 years. With conservative growth I could 4x it. (I don't even want to think about higher growth than that.... Too exciting.)

So here shortly I could be an owner of a second business, and my first 7 figure revenue business. I've been laying the foundation for this possibility for 6 years now. I've wanted to write a post like this ever since I read this excellent post about the opportunity to take over a boomer's business. And of course this excellent thread.

And I haven't even mentioned how many other referrals this guy has sent me. How many doors he's opened.

And how his son also referred my lead writer to me, who's been with us for 3+ years now. Without that guy on my team, I might have shut down my agency at some point during my divorce. That's no joke. I was really close to doing so, and 2 conversations with that guy turned me around and got me going again. He believed in my vision even when I didn't.

NONE of this would have happened if I hadn't turned down a $3000/month client that I knew I would fail to deliver results for and wanted to pay me more.

Thing is Fastlane Fam, even if this doesn't happen, I'm ok with that. You know why? Well, its at least in part because last month a SECOND client approached me to buy their business. And yup, you guessed it, 10 years ago I turned this one away too only to have him come back 6 months later and try to convince me that my research was wrong and that he didn't want to work with other SEO's. Turns out, he was right, I was wrong. His business had recurring revenue, and back then I didn't think to account for that. His campaign was profitable after 4 months. He never sent any referrals, but he's been a loyal client for 10 years. How many agencies can say that? But I'm not looking to buy that business, so that's basically the whole story.

If its happened twice, it'll happen again.

I'll wrap up with this. There are a lot of digital marketers on this forum.

Consider if you charge a fair rate and get results (underpromise/overdeliver) you will be in an excellent position to establish long term rapport with your clients. Having that long term relationship can give you insights into the business you can't otherwise get. Better insights than just looking at Flippa listings or working with a business broker get you. Buying a client's business is less risky than some alternatives. Plus, I'm not chasing these guys, they came to me.

So be honest with people. Treat clients the way you'd want to be treated.

And don't be afraid to tell someone, "Sorry, but we're not the right marketing agency for you."

You never know how doing the right thing could benefit you in the long run. Hope these stories help somebody on here.

(*This advice holds goes for your exes too, by the way. Both clients later told me my ex gave a glowing recommendation that factored into their decision. I had no idea... If I was the type to burn bridges, I doubt either of those clients at that networking event would have signed since they already knew her well. So again, you just never know how treating others with respect can pay off.)
 
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Andy Black

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Great stories. Love how you’re focused on serving people, building relationships, and thinking long term.

Likewise, I get referrals from people who I spoke to years ago. Just because they liked my honesty, enthusiasm, and the way I explained things.
 

BizyDad

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Just because they liked my honesty, enthusiasm, and the way I explained things.
That's really it man. That's the essence, the TL;DR version of my stories.

It's obvious why people like the way you explain things.
 

WJK

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You may already know I run a search engine marketing agency. We are a 99% referral shop, and we only take on at most 3 new marketing clients a month. This might change soon, but historically, I turn down most leads that come my way.

I did it again today, and I want to share the story to maybe get your gears turning, because turning away business is one of my favorite ways to get more referrals. Here's some more ideas.

There are several reasons why I might turn someone away:
  1. I already have a client in that industry+geography and we don't compete with ourselves for rankings
  2. There's not enough search traffic for the prospect's offering to make an SEM campaign profitable
  3. The prospect is putting out PITA vibes (pain in the...)
  4. The prospect needs a bigger agency than my own
Our first meeting was a phone meeting last week. I do a fair bit of fact finding. My goal is to get a sense of their current goal for SEM, what is their history with SEM, what other marketing they do, and what they charge for services. Having accomplished that, I set a follow up meeting (which happened today).

In between I do some research, and I prep the client that in our next meeting I will either lay out a marketing plan, or I will give them reasons why we shouldn't do business (which always takes them by surprise, so I usually mention reason #2 as an example of why we might not do business).

Side note, that's my typical sales process. Newbies running a consulting/marketing firm, feel free to try it. If nothing else, that second meeting gives you a bit more credibility in their eyes because you went and did research on them. There are several more benefits, but that's another topic for another day.

As a little background, today's prospect was referred to me by one of my top clients, who is a trusted thought leader in her industry and raves about me, so he was already predisposed to liking me. She is great, but I often have to tone down expectations with her referrals. So this guy today is a lifetime entrepreneur who had spent the last 10 years in tech. He is launching a new venture in a space I am unfamiliar with, but has a large market & growth potential. I really enjoy these kinds of clients because part of the reason I do what I do is to keep growing my knowledge of other business structures/models. So to learn a whole new niche industry is a treat.

The only real "drawback" is the client has a low price point, and that makes certain tactics challenging, but I suspected I could find profitable keyword phrases for him because there is recurring revenue potential built in.

As I said, the guy is in tech, so he felt he had a "good working knowledge" of SEM. And at the end of the call, he said to me, "In all my many meetings, I've never heard of anyone who approached SEO the way you do. But this all makes so much sense. I'm really looking forward to hearing the results of your research." I really wanted to work with this guy; I got off the call ready to make an offer he couldn't refuse.

In between our meetings I did my research. And my heart sank a bit.

When I examined the numbers I learned that this industry was much more competitive than I had imagined. Looking at the numbers, it made sense after the fact, but going in I really had no idea. This niche is too competitive for my style of SEO to deliver timely results. And because of the low margins, I didn't think running ads would prove profitable. Frankly, of the 4 reasons I turn down business, this is the least common for me.

So I started today's meeting by saying to the client and his team, "This is going to be one of those meetings where I tell you not to hire me, but that you need a larger and maybe a more specialized SEO agency."

Then I just went through all the research I did to prepare for the meeting. I gave him the kinds of questions to ask when hiring the bigger agency to make sure he finds a good one. Along the way I gave them 5 more marketing ideas/tactics they could use whether they hire another agency or not, including ideas unrelated to my specialization.

Just before we wrapped the meeting, the prospect says to me, "Wow, I can't believe you've spent an hour showing us all this work only to tell us we shouldn't hire you. I really want to work with you, so how does this sound..." Long story short, I left with information on his 2 more established businesses. Both have the ability to pay at least twice what I would have charged this one out of the gate. And this time I again suspect the numbers will be more in keeping with the kind of business my team can actually deliver results for.

AND he wants me to meet his doctor friend who also needs an SEM strategy.

3 quality leads in one "this is going nowhere" meeting.

That's one way how turning down business leads to more business. I have many stories like this, and if you have another moment I'd like to share my new favorite.

This story starts like 8 years ago or so. Just like the last story, this was a two step sales process. Prospect referred to me by a top client. This guy was the Director of Marketing for his brother's large agricultural business. In our first meeting he told me he had $3k budget he "needed" to spend. For our second meeting he invited me to a networking event where I randomly saw an ex-girlfriend* and ultimately signed another client from that group.

But I turned away his business (this time for reason #2).

He asked if he raised the budget number, would that make a difference?

After a 2 second pause where I considered burning my ethics to the ground, I told him he should just forget about SEO as a marketing tactic because farmers weren't Googling for what he offered. He was surprised, this was a multi-million dollar company with many well-known clients, but his brother had told him the same thing. He understood once I showed him the data.

Turning away $3000+ per month was not easy. I was coming out of some really tough years and at that point in my agency I hadn't signed a client that large. Still, it was the right thing to do.

18 months later he calls me up again. He had left his brother's company and bought an ecommerce store. Would I please help him, he was in over his head. I told him I don't normally take on ecommerce clients, but I'd be happy to at least look at what was going on and do my research. Worst case, I'd again give him some free advice.

Well, again my assumption going in was wrong, and this client had a niche where I could indeed help him. And for the last 6 years I've enjoyed helping him grow his business. Along the way, I've shown up at his office regularly. I've gotten to know his staff and his family. After the first year he started paying me a performance bonus. Pretty sweet deal.

Then C0VlD hit, and revenues shrank. He decides to accelerate his retirement plan. He calls me up one day back in February to share the new vision. Instead of retiring in 3 years, he wanted to retire in 6 months. And would I be interested in buying his business? This surprised me because we always talked about the possibility of my owning a piece of the business, but his son was the obvious choice to take it over. Then a week later, he flies out to Texas and buys a boat (and doesn't come back for 3 months!!)

So I approach his son. I ask why he isn't buying it, and he replies he's scared of crashing the business. He doesn't have a business background and doesn't trust himself with this. Long story short, we concoct a plan to buy it together. I knew I didn't have the time to run it on my own, and hiring and training the right sales person would prove difficult for me time-wise & knowledge-wise. So partnering with him was my goal.

I'll continue to fulfill the role of marketing and de-facto business coach, and he'll continue to handle the primary sales and managing of the team. We've been working together for the last 3 years, and he has often referred to me as his "boss" even though I viewed myself as his "consigliere", but I pointed out that ultimately, not too much would actually change in his day to day. I asked him to envision the alternative. What's that look like?

Filling out resume after resume only to go back to his previous career, he said.

Waiting for the next layoff? Punching a clock where someone else sets the schedule?

Pretty much, he said. Initially he was skeptical, but after a week he was "on board" with partnership.

We've spent the last 6 months running it as a trial to see how thing will go (and to ensure we can recover lost growth). In that time, the dad has been 100% hands off, and our sales have recovered sufficiently that everyone feels good taking the next steps. And my hopefully-soon-to-be partner has really stepped into his new role of running his side of things. He and I have shown to each other how smooth this can continue to be.

BONUS - the father has lowered his asking price for the business and offered to carry back a bigger chunk of the purchase price. In his words, "I want you two to have it and run it. I know I can get more selling it elsewhere, but I want you two to have it. Let's get this figured out." At that point, this has become close to a no-brainer for me.

I have a meeting with the family this Thursday to begin to formalize the terms of this new arrangement. If everything goes as expected, and even if the company sales just stay stable, I should double my investment in 3 years. With conservative growth I could 4x it. (I don't even want to think about higher growth than that.... Too exciting.)

So here shortly I could be an owner of a second business, and my first 7 figure revenue business. I've been laying the foundation for this possibility for 6 years now. I've wanted to write a post like this ever since I read this excellent post about the opportunity to take over a boomer's business. And of course this excellent thread.

And I haven't even mentioned how many other referrals this guy has sent me. How many doors he's opened.

And how his son also referred my lead writer to me, who's been with us for 3+ years now. Without that guy on my team, I might have shut down my agency at some point during my divorce. That's no joke. I was really close to doing so, and 2 conversations with that guy turned me around and got me going again. He believed in my vision even when I didn't.

NONE of this would have happened if I hadn't turned down a $3000/month client that I knew I would fail to deliver results for and wanted to pay me more.

Thing is Fastlane Fam, even if this doesn't happen, I'm ok with that. You know why? Well, its at least in part because last month a SECOND client approached me to buy their business. And yup, you guessed it, 10 years ago I turned this one away too only to have him come back 6 months later and try to convince me that my research was wrong and that he didn't want to work with other SEO's. Turns out, he was right, I was wrong. His business had recurring revenue, and back then I didn't think to account for that. His campaign was profitable after 4 months. He never sent any referrals, but he's been a loyal client for 10 years. How many agencies can say that? But I'm not looking to buy that business, so that's basically the whole story.

If its happened twice, it'll happen again.

I'll wrap up with this. There are a lot of digital marketers on this forum.

Consider if you charge a fair rate and get results (underpromise/overdeliver) you will be in an excellent position to establish long term rapport with your clients. Having that long term relationship can give you insights into the business you can't otherwise get. Better insights than just looking at Flippa listings or working with a business broker get you. Buying a client's business is less risky than some alternatives. Plus, I'm not chasing these guys, they came to me.

So be honest with people. Treat clients the way you'd want to be treated.

And don't be afraid to tell someone, "Sorry, but we're not the right marketing agency for you."

You never know how doing the right thing could benefit you in the long run. Hope these stories help somebody on here.

(*This advice holds goes for your exes too, by the way. Both clients later told me my ex gave a glowing recommendation that factored into their decision. I had no idea... If I was the type to burn bridges, I doubt either of those clients at that networking event would have signed since they already knew her well. So again, you just never know how treating others with respect can pay off.)
I totally agree. Don't take work that doesn't fit your company skill set and resources. It may give you an area in which you can expand in the future. But, doing a bad job for a client will be remembered forever.
 

BizyDad

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I totally agree. Don't take work that doesn't fit your company skill set and resources. It may give you an area in which you can expand in the future. But, doing a bad job for a client will be remembered forever.
Exactly.

Speaking of resources, I also worry about taking a client too big for my team. Sure, the money is good, but if you aren't careful they'll eat your time, creating a problem with serving others. And then if they leave you have a different set of problems with cash flow.

I've seen several agencies sign that one big client and appear super successful, only to shutter their doors when an economic downturn forces the big client to fire them.

If you go elephant hunting, make sure you bag 3 elephants.
 

Ronak

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Exactly.

Speaking of resources, I also worry about taking a client too big for my team. Sure, the money is good, but if you aren't careful they'll eat your time, creating a problem with serving others. And then if they leave you have a different set of problems with cash flow.

I've seen several agencies sign that one big client and appear super successful, only to shutter their doors when an economic downturn forces the big client to fire them.

If you go elephant hunting, make sure you bag 3 elephants.

Yes, what a conundrum! I'm always drawn to the bigger potential clients, products, but have had that come back to bite me when things took a downturn!

I can vouch for the making yourself scarce increasing clients' desire to work with you.

Recently, I declined additional work from a client because I couldn't help them . They ended up referring an even bigger potential deal to me, with the caution not to piss me off lest I decline the work. Reminded me of the soup nazi...No Leads for You!
 
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WJK

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Exactly.

Speaking of resources, I also worry about taking a client too big for my team. Sure, the money is good, but if you aren't careful they'll eat your time, creating a problem with serving others. And then if they leave you have a different set of problems with cash flow.

I've seen several agencies sign that one big client and appear super successful, only to shutter their doors when an economic downturn forces the big client to fire them.

If you go elephant hunting, make sure you bag 3 elephants.
I totally agree. And I've seen this happen in manufacturing. I know some companies who have gotten large orders from Walmart. They bought the equipment, rented or bought the space, hired the people, and filled the orders. And that was it. It was a one shot deal. Now they have the debt from expanding, idle space and equipment, and people standing around sucking their thumbs. It's a major cause of failure.
 

Walter Hay

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I Love It ! This thread is one of the most refreshing stories that I have read in seven years on the forum.

It reminded me of something that was the reverse. After my B2B importing/marketing/franchising business began to thrive I visited a manufacturer in Taipei and his eyes bulged when he heard about the volume of orders being placed by my franchisees.

He promised me the earth!

His products were excellent, prices were good, and delivery was prompt every time. At least that's how it continued for 18 months until he betrayed my trust. He got a massive order from Disney, but failed to tell me, while continuing to accept the flow of orders from my franchisees, knowing that his production line was fully booked for several months.

I should add at this point that my franchisees contributed to the disaster by failing to spread orders among the other suppliers as recommended in our Operations Manual.

Franchisees began reporting long delays in dispatch of orders. I flew to Taipei and physically took possession of the stamping dies and distributed them among our other manufacturers.

The Disney order, although huge, was a one-off, but his ethical failure lost him long term orders that had already been making him an ever increasing profit.

Walter
 

Andy Black

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BizyDad

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I Love It ! This thread is one of the most refreshing stories that I have read in seven years on the forum.

Wow. That is high praise. Thank you Walter, your words are greatly appreciated.

It reminded me of something that was the reverse. After my B2B importing/marketing/franchising business began to thrive I visited a manufacturer in Taipei and his eyes bulged when he heard about the volume of orders being placed by my franchisees.

He promised me the earth!

His products were excellent, prices were good, and delivery was prompt every time. At least that's how it continued for 18 months until he betrayed my trust. He got a massive order from Disney, but failed to tell me, while continuing to accept the flow of orders from my franchisees, knowing that his production line was fully booked for several months.

I should add at this point that my franchisees contributed to the disaster by failing to spread orders among the other suppliers as recommended in our Operations Manual.

Franchisees began reporting long delays in dispatch of orders. I flew to Taipei and physically took possession of the stamping dies and distributed them among our other manufacturers.

The Disney order, although huge, was a one-off, but his ethical failure lost him long term orders that had already been making him an ever increasing profit.

Walter

Especially because you are a guy who brings valuable stories, anecdotes, and insights like this here. Thank you for contributing to the discussion. I wonder if he thought it was worth it in the end. You probably aren't the only one who left him.
 

BizyDad

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Not quite the same, but similar I feel. Curious what you think of this conversation:
I think it is the same in principle. Perhaps there is a distinction, but not a difference. Your discussion definitely highlights the point I'm trying to make here.

They say to a surgeon every solution involves a scalpel. To Brendan, ever opportunity is a sales opportunity. He might claim to hate the phrase always be closing, but he obviously agrees with the principle.

To me, what you espoused, and also how I think of what I do, is as a marketing activity.

Because I don't try to close everybody I meet, way more people will take my phone call later.

Back in my banking days, I was totally Mr Close 'Em. Comparing the results from then to now, there is no doubt in my mind you will get more referrals in the long run by not "sending invoices" for 15 minutes of work.

Heck in my story I mention that other client who is selling his business. After I sent him away, he sent me a referral. But he hasn't sent me a referral in the near decade since he's been a client.

I never asked for one either, I'm sure if I asked he would if he could. But that goes to show that sending the invoice does in a very real sense close the reciprocity loop.

In the podcast episode you also made a hugely salient point and it got washed out but I want to highlight it.

You expect nothing in return. You are truly doing this 20 minute consult as an act of genuine helpfulness.

That is "the secret" that supercharges the reciprocity.

Maybe the group leader sends you business or maybe he doesn't. I honestly believe, correct me if I'm wrong, that it doesn't make one bit of difference to you whether he does or doesn't.

It is enough for you to have made the impression you made and let the chips fall where they may. Am I right?

And because of that, this guy more than likely will be a solid COI/referral source for you.

Worst case, he will always take your call, because he has already experienced how a chat with you has "no strings".

Brendan isn't wrong. Closing a sale doesn't necessarily preclude a future referral.

But it does take away how you truly "stood out".

Instead of setting yourself apart as a pretty unique type of person, a true helper and problem solver, Brendan's sales approach transforms you into merely a knowledgeable G Ads person. And there is value in that, no doubt. That plants a seed.

Yet your marketing approach accomplishes both the "knowledgeable expert" and "good hearted problem solver" sides of the equation. That plants several seeds.

In my case, those extra seeds spouted into additional hidden business opportunities. I say hidden because the guy flat out told me he was looking to hire different agencies and test them against each other. He wasn't planning on giving me a shot at the other businesses. And of course years ago I couldn't have predicted clients approaching me to buy their business. How many agencies get approached by their clients like that?

Who knows what your extra seeds might grow into?

Why trade that for a $100 invoice?
 

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I think it is the same in principle. Perhaps there is a distinction, but not a difference. Your discussion definitely highlights the point I'm trying to make here.

They say to a surgeon every solution involves a scalpel. To Brendan, ever opportunity is a sales opportunity. He might claim to hate the phrase always be closing, but he obviously agrees with the principle.

To me, what you espoused, and also how I think of what I do, is as a marketing activity.

Because I don't try to close everybody I meet, way more people will take my phone call later.

Back in my banking days, I was totally Mr Close 'Em. Comparing the results from then to now, there is no doubt in my mind you will get more referrals in the long run by not "sending invoices" for 15 minutes of work.

Heck in my story I mention that other client who is selling his business. After I sent him away, he sent me a referral. But he hasn't sent me a referral in the near decade since he's been a client.

I never asked for one either, I'm sure if I asked he would if he could. But that goes to show that sending the invoice does in a very real sense close the reciprocity loop.

In the podcast episode you also made a hugely salient point and it got washed out but I want to highlight it.

You expect nothing in return. You are truly doing this 20 minute consult as an act of genuine helpfulness.

That is "the secret" that supercharges the reciprocity.

Maybe the group leader sends you business or maybe he doesn't. I honestly believe, correct me if I'm wrong, that it doesn't make one bit of difference to you whether he does or doesn't.

It is enough for you to have made the impression you made and let the chips fall where they may. Am I right?

And because of that, this guy more than likely will be a solid COI/referral source for you.

Worst case, he will always take your call, because he has already experienced how a chat with you has "no strings".

Brendan isn't wrong. Closing a sale doesn't necessarily preclude a future referral.

But it does take away how you truly "stood out".

Instead of setting yourself apart as a pretty unique type of person, a true helper and problem solver, Brendan's sales approach transforms you into merely a knowledgeable G Ads person. And there is value in that, no doubt. That plants a seed.

Yet your marketing approach accomplishes both the "knowledgeable expert" and "good hearted problem solver" sides of the equation. That plants several seeds.

In my case, those extra seeds spouted into additional hidden business opportunities. I say hidden because the guy flat out told me he was looking to hire different agencies and test them against each other. He wasn't planning on giving me a shot at the other businesses. And of course years ago I couldn't have predicted clients approaching me to buy their business. How many agencies get approached by their clients like that?

Who knows what your extra seeds might grow into?

Why trade that for a $100 invoice?
I have a little bit to add to your wonderful comments.

First, you hit upon one of the great truths. People who are always closing and sending their $100 invoices are simply in the encounter for what they can get out of it. Their naked greed is a terrible turn off. It's like having a person who has stinky dog poop on their shoes. And they are walking it all over your carpet.

Second, that greedy person does NOT really enjoy their work. If they can find a way to get to the reward faster, they will cut corners. They are doing MDR -- minimum daily requirement -- nothing extra that isn't absolutely necessary to get their prize.

Third, they don't care about their client/customer. That relationship is created as a means to an end. Period.

Fourth, for the greedy person, it's like a on-line game. Hurting his opponent has no personal reality for him. It is perceived as a two dimensional situation. The other person's pain and/or sense of loss is either just an annoyance to him, or part of his reward system -- a badge of triumph. He figures that they played his game so they deserve the results. It's hard for him to see that his mark never consented. He was the predator in the situation.

Most people run like hell when they meet that greedy person with dollar signs in their eyes. When they meet people who are kind, and have their interests at heart, they are attracted.
 
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I have a little bit to add to your wonderful comments.

First, you hit upon one of the great truths. People who are always closing and sending their $100 invoices are simply in the encounter for what they can get out of it. Their naked greed is a terrible turn off. It's like having a person who has stinky dog poop on their shoes. And they are walking it all over your carpet.

Second, that greedy person does NOT really enjoy their work. If they can find a way to get to the reward faster, they will cut corners. They are doing MDR -- minimum daily requirement -- nothing extra that isn't absolutely necessary to get their prize.

Third, they don't care about their client/customer. That relationship is created as a means to an end. Period.

Fourth, for the greedy person, it's like a on-line game. Hurting his opponent has no personal reality for him. It is perceived as a two dimensional situation. The other person's pain and/or sense of loss is either just an annoyance to him, or part of his reward system -- a badge of triumph. He figures that they played his game so they deserve the results. It's hard for him to see that his mark never consented. He was the predator in the situation.

Most people run like hell when they meet that greedy person with dollar signs in their eyes. When they meet people who are kind, and have their interests at heart, they are attracted.
So... The person I refer to is Andy's podcasting partner. To be fair, he might be greedy, but I can't speak to how well this description fits him other than to say I think Andy is a pretty good judge of character.

That said, you describe an archtypal sales guy. A lot of what you say is generally true. A lot of sales positions breed that hunter instinct in people, and Hollywood makes it seem cool too. I even recognize a lot of what you say in me from my time as a banker.

And because I've lived it, I'd suggest there's a spectrum. Even people with "commission breath" might believe they are helping someone. They might believe they are selling solar to change the world or some such justification. And they still might still be dogged, I'm getting rich hunter types.

I suggest the two aren't always mutually exclusive.

I think a lot of MLM attract these kinds of people. Ones who are undoubtedly out for themselves and unabashedly greedy, but still try to build up a tribe around them and help others. (Of course MLMs also attract a lot for the type you describe).

We're humans. No one is wholly perfectly good or evil, selfish or selfless.

I mean shoot, even on a thread I started about giving without expectation of gain, I can't honestly say I have 0 expectation of personal gain. I've listed several personal benefits.

I guess I just don't have an attachment to the need for a gainful outcome. If it happens great. But I've given plenty of free hours and had it come to nothing that I'm aware of. No regrets. I helped, and helping is winning.
 

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So... The person I refer to is Andy's podcasting partner. To be fair, he might be greedy, but I can't speak to how well this description fits him other than to say I think Andy is a pretty good judge of character.

That said, you describe an archtypal sales guy. A lot of what you say is generally true. A lot of sales positions breed that hunter instinct in people, and Hollywood makes it seem cool too. I even recognize a lot of what you say in me from my time as a banker.

And because I've lived it, I'd suggest there's a spectrum. Even people with "commission breath" might believe they are helping someone. They might believe they are selling solar to change the world or some such justification. And they still might still be dogged, I'm getting rich hunter types.

I suggest the two aren't always mutually exclusive.

I think a lot of MLM attract these kinds of people. Ones who are undoubtedly out for themselves and unabashedly greedy, but still try to build up a tribe around them and help others. (Of course MLMs also attract a lot for the type you describe).

We're humans. No one is wholly perfectly good or evil, selfish or selfless.

I mean shoot, even on a thread I started about giving without expectation of gain, I can't honestly say I have 0 expectation of personal gain. I've listed several personal benefits.

I guess I just don't have an attachment to the need for a gainful outcome. If it happens great. But I've given plenty of free hours and had it come to nothing that I'm aware of. No regrets. I helped, and helping is winning.
True. It's NOT a bifurcated situation. We can all be greedy and/or generous. It's part of the human condition.

I started selling real estate in 1976, so I have been around selling since then. I love to sell. I believe in making money. I'm very good at bring the bacon home. I just want my clients to win too. I want them to feel that got their money's worth. If I can engineer it, I want them to feel like they got more than they paid for.

You right. I'm describing an archetype of a greedy sales guy.

I sometimes hear the echoes of that thinking here on this forum. All some want to do is make piles of money, regardless of how they do it or who they hurt. And they want it now. They're NOT into providing a service and being fairly paid for that exchange. They don't want to do the work or gain the expertise. They just want the money right now so they can fulfill their dreams. I find it disheartening.
 

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I honestly believe, correct me if I'm wrong, that it doesn't make one bit of difference to you whether he does or doesn't.

It is enough for you to have made the impression you made and let the chips fall where they may. Am I right?
Yes, you’re right. I’m not trying to get a new client.

Also, you’re correct that I see it more as a marketing opportunity than a sales opportunity. I’d much rather make a new friend who can refer me to people for the next decade than send an invoice.
 
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I sometimes hear the echoes of that thinking here on this forum. All some want to do is make piles of money, regardless of how they do it or who they hurt. And they want it now. They're NOT into providing a service and being fairly paid for that exchange. They don't want to do the work or gain the expertise. They just want the money right now so they can fulfill their dreams. I find it disheartening.
Yup. I hear you. I've been saying this place is what we make it, and that thought is what inspires me to post stuff that shows alternative thinking. Obviously the forum is owned by MJ, but I "take ownership" of my role here.

A forum that espouses "fastlane" is bound to attract the get rich quick and easy crowd. It always will. Fortunately, there people here who point to MJ's deeper lessons of the books, build the value.

It does seem like there's less of us lately, or maybe people are just quieter, but maybe that trend will turn around. Maybe I'm just on the wrong threads. People get busy. Especially the ones who understand the value principles.
 

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To me this thread is one of the best I've seen lately.

A mentor of mine, who always had a waiting list of clients, said "Tiago, I have a waiting list because I'm willing to do so much free work for people, expecting nothing in return."
 

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To me this thread is one of the best I've seen lately.

A mentor of mine, who always had a waiting list of clients, said "Tiago, I have a waiting list because I'm willing to do so much free work for people, expecting nothing in return."
It’s not necessarily that you do free “work” I feel, more that you add value (aka help people) for free without expectation. Even just getting to that mindset is an amazing shift.
 
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In my mind, the one drawback to this being a core tenet of a marketing plan is that of scale. It just doesn't scale easily. Also, I sometimes have doubts about how well the principle can translate to the non-services type of businesses.

But then I think that Zappos and even Amazon at times in its history have implemented the principles. And @Walter Hay 's story of a manufacturer violating this kind of thing shows that this has applications beyond just a "small service agency" type of format.

But in practical terms, I'm not sure how to apply it for, say, an eCommerce business. I'd like to crack that code some more, because it could fuel some solid organic growth. Maybe I'm overthinking this stuff...
 

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I got my start in selling when at the age of 21, and recently married I was the accountant for a new car dealership. The business sold 4 different marques and a small number of used cars.

The 3 sleazy professional salesmen were the kind that give salesmen a bad name. I got the owner's permission to attend to prospects when there was no salesman available.

My day arrived when all three had failed to return from a liquid lunch, and a prospect walked in. He was looking for a used Peugeot station waggon, but we had none, and he drooled over the new one in the showroom.

I answered all his questions about the vehicle, which incidentally was something the pros could never do because they could not bother to even read the material provided by the distributor.

When the prospect said he didn't want to pay the price of the new one, I referred him to another Peugeot dealership not far away and gave him directions. He told me he would be back if they didn't have a suitable vehicle.

After he left the owner quizzed me and hit the roof when I told him what had transpired, telling me "they never come back."

Within an hour he was back and bought the new vehicle, thanking me for being so helpful.

Offering what he really wanted amounted to turning down his original request but it led to my lifelong successful career in sales.

Walter
 

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In my mind, the one drawback to this being a core tenet of a marketing plan is that of scale. It just doesn't scale easily. Also, I sometimes have doubts about how well the principle can translate to the non-services type of businesses.

But then I think that Zappos and even Amazon at times in its history have implemented the principles. And @Walter Hay 's story of a manufacturer violating this kind of thing shows that this has applications beyond just a "small service agency" type of format.

But in practical terms, I'm not sure how to apply it for, say, an eCommerce business. I'd like to crack that code some more, because it could fuel some solid organic growth. Maybe I'm overthinking this stuff...
Sales is a screening process right? Filter out the folks you don’t want to serve in a nice way so they know who you serve?
 
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I got my start in selling when at the age of 21, and recently married I was the accountant for a new car dealership. The business sold 4 different marques and a small number of used cars.

The 3 sleazy professional salesmen were the kind that give salesmen a bad name. I got the owner's permission to attend to prospects when there was no salesman available.

My day arrived when all three had failed to return from a liquid lunch, and a prospect walked in. He was looking for a used Peugeot station waggon, but we had none, and he drooled over the new one in the showroom.

I answered all his questions about the vehicle, which incidentally was something the pros could never do because they could not bother to even read the material provided by the distributor.

When the prospect said he didn't want to pay the price of the new one, I referred him to another Peugeot dealership not far away and gave him directions. He told me he would be back if they didn't have a suitable vehicle.

After he left the owner quizzed me and hit the roof when I told him what had transpired, telling me "they never come back."

Within an hour he was back and bought the new vehicle, thanking me for being so helpful.

Offering what he really wanted amounted to turning down his original request but it led to my lifelong successful career in sales.

Walter
This EXACT method has served me well in my part time sales job the last year. My first day conversions are average but after taking into account sales after first day, I'm topping the floor in both number of sales and percentage of sales to leads.
 

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This EXACT method has served me well in my part time sales job the last year. My first day conversions are average but after taking into account sales after first day, I'm topping the floor in both number of sales and percentage of sales to leads.
That's awesome feedback. What do you do?
 

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That's awesome feedback. What do you do?
That's just for a part time phone sales job for an insurance company here in Australia. Help people finish off their quote is all it is really.

I can tell my supervisors and those above don't like that I don't just go for being a pushy first day conversion style, even though my stats speak for themselves. It's a bit weird that they're still like that.
 
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That's just for a part time phone sales job for an insurance company here in Australia. Help people finish off their quote is all it is really.

I can tell my supervisors and those above don't like that I don't just go for being a pushy first day conversion style, even though my stats speak for themselves. It's a bit weird that they're still like that.
Not all that surprising. As long as you produce they'll hopefully leave you alone. They probably worry lesser skilled people will do what you and not get the same results.

But if they ever stopped being scared and actually tried to do it this way they'd get better results.

I trained bankers back in the day, several of whom never saw themselves as salespeople, but 25% of them (3 out of 12) became top bankers using my same tactics. Once they saw they could be helpful and do the right thing, it became easier to "offer solutions" instead of "sell". Two others went on to found successful business. All but one at least hit their goals, so they were in the top 50% of bankers nationwide.

But whenever corporate types paid my branches a visit, we had to kinda hide how we approached things. It's a shame really.
 

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Sales is a screening process right? Filter out the folks you don’t want to serve in a nice way so they know who you serve?
Sales? Sure. I guess. You could also say it is marketing's job to attract the right people.

But my point wasn't so much about screening. You can teach that and scale it.

It was more about scaling a mentality or culture of giving/helpfulness/service that endears you to your customers, prospects, or even people who don't use you -- without giving away the farm either. It's a fine balance. Imo, Zappos was always the shining example of achieving this at scale. Why has no one duplicated it?

It's tough. It lessens margins.

But there's got to be more to it than that, right?
 

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I love this thread.

@MJ DeMarco @Vigilante @Andy Black suggesting this one for gold:)

It resonates with me 100%, both as a sales person and a customer.

I've had prospects insist I take the job, when I straight up said I DON'T KNOW how to do it, just because of the attitude shown, which was "I can't help you, but here's what you could do".

I've had employers pick me over more qualified and train me up, just because of the attitude, the stance.

I love that @Andy Black and @WJK showed up for this thread.

To be sure, always-be-closing works too. I've been that guy too. It is cool, in a way that flexing an expensive car would be cool.

I've also been a "happy to help, and no you don't need to pay anything" guy. Result: there were folks who would understand that "hey, I'm available for work" meant "I really really need some income, like, yesterday!".

But in practical terms, I'm not sure how to apply it for, say, an eCommerce business.

Simples?

Not sure what your specific offer is, so just some suggestions:
  • Flawless user experience
  • All FAQs answered
  • Assurance with redundancy what will happen with every click, refund options etc.
  • Some sort of chat widget? Allow some sort of feedback to learn where prospects get stuck.
An example...

I worked at a B2B wholesale. We made an ecommerce store for clients only.

First day - a bunch of phone calls, all asking for a feature - the search option.
It was there though, with the magnifying glass icon, top right corner, all as you'd expect.

Turns out, clients were looking for a button that literally says "Search", so once we added that it was all good.

In addition to this, I'd say:
  • Definitely make sure your website is cross-browser compatible
  • Check how it looks and works on different phones, laptops, desktops, screen sizes
  • Make it redundantly clear every step of the way, don't assume everyone is super savvy
  • Provide some sort of feedback/help form
Don't know what your ecommerce is about, so perhaps more could apply, e.g.
  • Allow prospects to reach you in as many ways as you can, e.g.phone, email, text, different apps
Happy to chat about it if you want so you're welcome to PM me.
 
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Simples?

Not sure what your specific offer is, so just some suggestions:
  • Flawless user experience
  • All FAQs answered
  • Assurance with redundancy what will happen with every click, refund options etc.
  • Some sort of chat widget? Allow some sort of feedback to learn where prospects get stuck.
An example...

I worked at a B2B wholesale. We made an ecommerce store for clients only.

First day - a bunch of phone calls, all asking for a feature - the search option.
It was there though, with the magnifying glass icon, top right corner, all as you'd expect.

Turns out, clients were looking for a button that literally says "Search", so once we added that it was all good.

In addition to this, I'd say:
  • Definitely make sure your website is cross-browser compatible
  • Check how it looks and works on different phones, laptops, desktops, screen sizes
  • Make it redundantly clear every step of the way, don't assume everyone is super savvy
  • Provide some sort of feedback/help form
Don't know what your ecommerce is about, so perhaps more could apply, e.g.
  • Allow prospects to reach you in as many ways as you can, e.g.phone, email, text, different apps
Happy to chat about it if you want so you're welcome to PM me.

Right. And these are good tips for ecommerce overall, for sure. I love chats and try to get all my clients to use them.

A lot of what you shared is spot on. The skeptic in me was like, but can these things scale?

And of course a lot of what you shared was tips that Zappos did, so yes, it can. The important thing is to keep your business people focused. Not just customer focused, but people focused, because how you impact your employees will leak out into how they impact your customers.

My questions was more hypothetical and philosophical than practical I guess. I could have just as easily said how do you scale this giving attitude for a franchise? I was looking to stimulate more conversation as opposed to looking for specific advice for myself. I don't actually have an ecommerce store.

Yet.

That said...
BONUS - the father has lowered his asking price for the business and offered to carry back a bigger chunk of the purchase price. In his words, "I want you two to have it and run it. I know I can get more selling it elsewhere, but I want you two to have it. Let's get this figured out." At that point, this has become close to a no-brainer for me.

I have a meeting with the family this Thursday to begin to formalize the terms of this new arrangement. If everything goes as expected...

Things did NOT go as expected. On Wednesday when I confirmed the appointment, the son tells me his dad is planning on staying in the business as a minority partner. As much as I like both of them, that didn't sit right with me. I had no conscious reason for it, but something about it felt off. Maybe its that the dad and I view running a business in different ways. Or maybe it was that if he was involved the son, and to a lesser extent I, would defer to his lead rather than taking up the mantle on our own roles.

Later in the day I talk to the dad and he discloses how much debt the business is carrying. The number was unexpectedly high. With him staying in, he was also making an argument for keeping their current corporate structure. But with that debt load I wasn't sure I wanted to put my $ at risk, especially at the price levels we'd been discussing. And then he drops this on me. Inventory was valued at X, and he hadn't been including that in the sale price of the business.

That might sound like people were negotiating in bad faith, but I want to be clear it wasn't. We had all agreed that until we met on Thursday, everthing we'd been discussing was just general chats, not firm negotiating. So I didn't have any hard feelings about any of this new info.

I enter the meeting on Thursday with tempered expectations.

And there things started turning around. Immediately, before the son even shows up, the dad agreed with an earlier suggestion I made to have an independent evaluation of the value of the business. In preparation for the meeting he admitted he was struggling to come up with a figure he felt was fair.

This was big progress.

After I looked at the #'s, in light of the debt situation, this could lead to an even lower selling price. But even if I am wrong and the value comes back higher, I am comfortable with that. I am not looking to do a deal at the lowest cost. I am looking to do a deal that is fair for everyone. I'm not an expert at business valuation either.

And this family has been really good to me. I want the dad to get his fair value out of this to help him in retirement. And if the fair price makes sense for me to be in on the deal, great. If not, I'm still going to help the son grow the business.

We went over the numbers and got on the same page about next steps. Each time I explained to the son what these numbers meant. I also told him ideas I had for increasing revenue, cutting liabilities, making the biz processes more efficient and timely.

In discussing how we wanted to handle the transfer, the dad came around to my vision for the future. Every point I made I took the step of presenting the pros and cons for the dad, for the son, and for me. It's like I tried to explain a puzzle to a blind person. But as I explained it, I could see that they both:

1- Felt I understood and was empathetic to everyone's perspective
2- Was interested in maximizing the most advantageous outcome for everyone involved, whether that meant I bought in or not, whether the dad was in or not.

The son and I had been discussing this for 6 months, so I knew he was on board, but he had done a bad job communicating that vision to the dad. Towards the end of the meeting the dad says, "Well guys, I like this. I really like this. I think it makes way more sense this way. Forget everything I was saying. Consider me out. We should move forward like this."

It's like he saw that once you consider all the moving pieces, there really is only one way that this puzzle can get put together. But it was so so good that he came to that conclusion on his own. That was the moment I relaxed. I didn't realize how tense I'd been.

The son didn't talk much. He mostly listened. He knows the dad and I are much more experienced in business and he was trying to soak it in. Plus he had a real etate deal weighing on him. He wrapped the meeting by turning to me and asking "So you still in?" I said "so far", he said "good" and that's when he visibly relaxed.

He called me afterwards to reinforce how important it is to him that I stay involved in the sale. He wants to partner. There's a ways to go, but it's nice to be appreciated and viewed as essential.

We've got next steps. It'll likely take many weeks, perhaps months to actually consummate the deal. But we made progress. And everyone wants to make this happen. That outcome far from certain 48 hrs ago. Anyways, that's a long update and hopefully it helps someone on here today.
 
Last edited:

WJK

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Oct 9, 2017
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Right. And these are good tips for ecommerce overall, for sure. I love chats and try to get all my clients to use them.

A lot of what you shared is spot on. The skeptic in me was like, but can these things scale?

And of course a lot fo what you shared was tips that Zappos did, so yes, it can. The improtant thing is to keep yourt business epople focused. Not just customer focused, but people focused, because how you impact your employees will leak out into how they impact your customers.

My questions was more hypothetical and philosophical than practical I guess. I could have just as easily said how do you scale this giving attitude for a franchise? I was looking to stimulate more conversation as opposed to looking for specific advice for myself. I don't actually have an ecommerce store.

Yet.

That said...


Things did NOT go as expected. On Wednesday when I confirmed the appointment, the son tells me his dad is planning on staying in the business as a minority partner. As much as I like both of them, that didn't sit right with me. I had no conscious reason for it, but something about it felt off. Maybe its that the dad and I view running a business in different ways. Or maybe it was that if he was involved the son, and to a lesser extent I, would defer to his lead rather than taking up the mantle on our own roles.

Later in the day I talk to the dad and he discloses how much debt the business is carrying. The number was unexpectedly high. With him staying in, he was also making an argument for keeping their current corporate structure. But with that debt load I wasn't sure I wanted to put my $ at risk, especially at the price levels we'd been discussing. And then he drops this on me. Inventory was valued at X, and he hadn't been including that in the sale price of the business.

That might sound like people were negotiating in bad faith, but I want to be clear it wasn't. We had all agreed that until we met on Thursday, everthing we'd been discussing was just general chats, not firm negotiating. So I didn't have any hard feelings about any of this new info.

I enter the meeting on Thursday with tempered expectations.

And there things started turning around. Immediately, before the son even shows up, the dad agreed with an earlier suggestion I made to have an independent evaluation of the value of the business. In preparation for the meeting he admitted he was struggling to come up with a figure he felt was fair.

This was big progress.

After I looked at the #'s, in light of the debt situation, this could lead to an even lower selling price. But even if I am wrong and the value comes back higher, I am comfortable with that. I am not looking to do a deal at the lowest cost. I am looking to do a deal that is fair for everyone. I'm not an expert at business valuation either.

And this family has been really good to me. I want the dad to get his fair value out of this to help him in retirement. And if the fair price makes sense for me to be in on the deal, great. If not, I'm still going to help the son grow the business.

We went over the numbers and got on the same page about next steps. Each time I explained to the son what these numbers meant. I also told him ideas I had for increasing revenue, cutting liabilities, making the biz processes more efficient and timely.

In discussing how we wanted to handle the transfer, the dad came around to my vision for the future. Every point I made I took the step of presenting the pros and cons for the dad, for the son, and for me. It's like I tried to explain a puzzle to a blind person. But as I explained it, I could see that they both:

1- Felt I understood and was empathetic to everyone's perspective
2- Was interested in maximizing the most advantageous outcome for everyone involved, whether that meant I bought in or not, whether the dad was in or not.

The son and I had been discussing this for 6 months, so I knew he was on board, but he had done a bad job communicating that vision to the dad. Towards the end of the meeting the dad says, "Well guys, I like this. I really like this. I think it makes way more sense this way. Forget everything I was saying. Consider me out. We should move forward like this."

It's like he saw that once you consider all the moving pieces, there really is only one way that this puzzle can get put together. But it was so so good that he came to that conclusion on his own. That was the moment I relaxed. I didn't realize how tense I'd been.

The son didn't talk much. He mostly listened. He knows the dad and I are much more experienced in business and he was trying to soak it in. Plus he had a real etate deal weighing on him. He wrapped the meeting by turning to me and asking "So you still in?" I said "so far", he said "good" and that's when he visibly relaxed.

He called me afterwards to reinforce how important it is to him that I stay involved in the sale. He wants to partner. There's a ways to go, but it's nice to be appreciated and viewed as essential.

We've got next steps. It'll likely take many weeks, perhaps months to actually consummate the deal. But we made progress. And everyone wants to make this happen. That outcome far from certain 48 hrs ago. Anyways, that's a long update and hopefully it helps someone on here today.
Good luck!
 

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