Peter Rastello is an engineer turned Hubspot Partner, San Diegan turned Idahoan that I first met in 2010. We've been working together for about a month to find better clients. This story and lesson comes from him in his own words.
The conversation went on “… and furthermore, we’ll have you become our webmaster managing several racks of equipment that you know nothing about and have no interest in. Once you get those under control, we’ll see about letting you do that marketing crap that you think will fix our company.” Unbelievable, I thought. What on Earth am I doing sitting here listening to this stuff? However, there I sat. Call after call, letting this supposed opportunity take on a distorted life of its own.
Rick’s words were ringing in my ears “so, how are you liking this opportunity?” and me answering “yeah, looks pretty good to me ($$$$$), I’m all over it”. Then on to the next call with the prospect:
“ Buddy, I feel absolutely great about having you jump in to help us with our network performance issues, server problems and my wife’s bunions – when can we get started?”
Bunions? I don’t know the first thing about bunions, why would he ask me that? Okay, I made that part up, but it was pretty close to that. The point is, this guy was trying to get me to work on a broad collection of things he needed to get done, in the order he needed them done, because he needed someone to take them on, regardless of the fact that the indications of his marketing assessment pointed in a completely different direction. It was classic micromanagement, a case of someone hiring you for your expertise, pointing you in the wrong direction and then trying to tell you how to proceed.
Rick asked once more: “so, how are you liking that opportunity today?”
to which I answered “yeah, well, uh you know, I think it’ll work out ($$$)”
Rick asked “ fantastic, so did he send you the information you asked for?”
“oh, uh, no”
“okay, well will he follow your lead to increased profitability?”
“Well, no, not exactly”
“are you sure he’s going to pay you without being a major pain in the posterior?”
“look it’s time to get rid of this guy – spend your time on someone you can actually help”.
The day after that conversation I executed Rick’s guidance to unplug the relationship as follows:
Prospect, please don’t be upset with me, but…
- The updated list of website related issues was supposed to hit my inbox on Friday, then in time for our meeting today yet you only got it to me minutes prior to start. Delays like that during the course of a project break the timeline and cost me money.
- Usually when I have conversations like the ones we’ve been having, people begin to realize I’m not just another website joe and they decide I know what I’m doing and say to themselves, ‘okay, let’s do it his way because it’s going to be done right’
- You’ve gotten used to micro-managing your vendors and telling them what they need to do in order to keep you happy – that doesn’t work with me
So, I think that you'll probably agree that this isn't going to work. Consequently, there's no reason to talk on Friday. I’ll cancel our call. Thanks for the opportunity. Sorry it didn’t work out.
And then I canceled the call.
The kicker here is that I started to feel guilty after hearing back from the prospect – it was my need for acceptance (yes, that old friend that I thought I had waved goodbye to years ago). I probably would not have abandoned this opportunity in the past, but can’t you just imagine how it would have gone? I would not have been able to move the needle for this company and fingers of accusation would have pointed in my direction. And you know what? Indeed, it would have been my fault for letting it happen.
If you're a baseball fan, you know that if the pitcher can't find the strike zone, the coach will probably tell the batter to "take the pitch", which means, don't swing the bat and take the walk. Sometimes, our prospect is convinced that we can do what they want, and we, as salespeople, hope that if we take the sale that they're offering, we can add on the sale that we want to make. Listen! Is your coach to telling you to "take" and leave the bat on your shoulder?
BTW, have you seen that Carole Mahoney and I are offering 14 yes/no questions and a joint program that will change your 2015? Answer the questions here.