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Please, Just Tell Me No!

by: Jayme Thomason

Published on
Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Please, Just Tell Me No!

We put a lot of time into people who are considering doing business with us. We put time into them because we know they have an ongoing problem, are considering solutions and looking for a partner to help them. Pardon me for sounding like a typical marketer, but you’d find these people furthest "down the funnel.” We have many people at this stage contact us, and while we wish we could work with everyone, we try to pursue a few, “perfect” prospects at a time and refer others to our friends.

This month was no different. A company had received our name from an advisor of theirs, and we got on a call. We loved everything about them - their opportunity, their problem, their values, their work and, well, them! After we had hung up, we were in unanimous agreement that this company was for us - that we were their marketing BFF, they just didn’t know it yet. We spent over a month, four different proposals, lots of emails and hours convincing them that it was meant to be. Well, in the end, they picked someone else. And while we’re super bummed that it won’t be us partnering in their success, they did something that few companies do.

They told me no.

Setting The Stage

Why is this such a profound thing? Here’s how it typically goes when we’re in a competitive proposal situation (with emojis):

  1. Prospect reaches out, says they’re evaluating candidates and found us
  2. We have a call to discuss their needs
  3. Our team gathers to decide if we can help them based on whether we think we can fall in love with their problem and if they’re a good fit for us culturally
  4. We develop a strategic proposal just for them
  5. We get on a call to discuss
  6. They ask if that’s the real price
  7. We say yes, it is... 
  8. They say they’re still interviewing candidates and they’ll get back to us
  9. I follow up a week later and get their voicemail, and I don’t leave a message (INTROVERT!!)
  10. I follow up with an email a day or so later
  11. We get busy, and it lays silent for two weeks
  12. Out of nowhere, they email with a request for a different proposal or additions to it
  13. We do it and send it right over
  14. We have another call to discuss the edited proposal
  15. They seem into us 
  16. I follow up with an email a few days later
  17. Nothing
  18. More nothing
  19. Still nothing 
  20. It’s like they disappeared off the planet (wait, did they?)
  21. Check obits
  22. Just gone.

It’s ok, I’m not mad. I know how things go and I know how quickly people inside organizations change their minds about what they need. One day, people are telling you to find a highly-specialized consulting company.

The next, they ask you to hire a low-level marketing manager…

Back to the Story

Back to the story. The marketing director for the business we were excited to work with sent me an email and asked for a short meeting the following day. She called me at the appointed time and told me they chose someone else. We chatted a little more, and she said she’d refer people to us, then we hung up. I have even more respect for her now than I did before. It takes courage to tell someone you like and respect that you’re choosing someone else. That someone else is a better fit. And it might not seem like it, but she showed a lot of respect for me and my team by simply telling us no. By not stringing us along and avoiding our calls. By owning and being truthful about their decision, even though she knew it would be uncomfortable. IMO, we could use a little more of this respectful truth in our business partnerships!

Despite what we think, we are not perfect for everyone, and there are other, more perfect solutions for people. I sincerely appreciate when people straight up tell me that. I plan to conduct my business in the same way - respecting others enough to tell them no.

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