Why You May Want to Turn Down Your Next Interiorscape Prospect

There’s a familiar expression, “The customer is always right.” I think this may be one of the most overused and/or misinterpreted statements in sales and customer service.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about treating a customer with respect, going the extra mile to earn their business, and even when it’s called for, taking a loss to maintain a good customer relationship. And yet, if I’m to be honest, I’ll tell you that I do not believe the customer, particularly a potential customer, is always right. I believe that there are times when a prospect is actually not the right person to be your customer.

Building rapport, getting to know a client’s needs, wants and preferences – this is the right thing to do and an important foundational step in the sales process. One reason why this is such an important step is that there are times when you’re getting to know a client, and you find out something important that tells you that prospect isn’t a good fit for you or your organization. When this happens, you’re facing a moment when you have to decide whether it’s the right thing to just move on, before you invest any more time into qualifying a prospect that’s simply not right for you.

And here’s yet another scenario. Let’s consider what might happen when you’ve met someone with whom you find a good connection. You’re successful in putting them at ease and building a comfortable rapport. You naturally move on to learning more about how you might be of service to them when you find out that, even though you would love to have this person as a customer, your company is actually not a good fit to perform the plant installation work they need, or to deliver the level of ongoing plantcare service they’re looking for. What then? Do you move on into a relationship that’s likely to fail and potentially impact your reputation negatively?

You can try to make them happy, knowing you’re likely to fall short, or you can practice true customer service and be honest about what you’ve discovered. Consider suggesting that another company may be a better fit and would deliver better service for their needs. If you’re open to doing this, you may want to be prepared and have a list of companies you truly feel good about recommending. If you intentionally develop relationships with other companies that work in your field, but have significant differences in style or delivery – companies that you respect and can confidently recommend – you’re doing the prospect and the other company a favor.

This style of ‘customer service’ can be part of a strategic plan that has the potential to pay off when you find that the customer isn’t right – or at least, isn’t the right one for your organization. You can make the most of the time you’ve spent in the first few steps of the sales process and leverage it, even if this prospect is not a new customer for you. You’re cutting your losses and building a great reputation for yourself in your market at the same time. The good will you create by doing the right thing for everyone will almost certainly come back around to bolster your business when your trustworthy reputation precedes you with a great prospect that is, in fact, the right customer for you!

Leslie Boomer joined the Pro-Motion team in January, 2013 as a 19-year veteran of the trade publishing industry, where she spent more than half of those years serving the landscape and snow removal industries. Leslie is certified by the Weatherhead School of Management as an Executive Coach which focuses on the orientation of intentional development for resonant (inspiring) leadership, grounded in the development of emotional and social intelligence competencies. Passionate about the benefits of organizational health and team building, Leslie is eager to help others gain insight into critical work-life self-awareness, along with the importance of inspiring, relationally intelligent leadership.

NewPro Containers
  • I routinely decline requests for proposals that are clearly being put out for bid and with no guidelines – no plant specs, no budget – just a blank space. I advise such clients that they will get as many different proposals as requests and they will be comparing apples to oranges. Indeed, I could submit 3 different proposals myself at very different price points. I know from experience that more often than not these requests end up going to the low bidder. I am rarely the low bidder, so it is usually a waste of my time. So I no longer participate in these uninformed charades.

    I always do try to educate these potential clients as to why these open-ended bids are not usually in their best interest. Of course, it typically falls on deaf ears.

    Sometimes these come back to me much later in the form of, “We are looking for a new plant service because our current service is not doing a good job.” Yup, I get it!

Join the Community