Seems like every day there’s another spate of articles with titles like “Ten Success Secrets of the Top-Selling Superstars.” In this economy, these stories are like car accidents: you can’t look away. We’re looking for all the help we can get! A lot of it is common sense, but as George Carlin reminded us, common sense isn’t. So in that spirit, I have compiled a list (from direct experience) of good and bad practices. Here are my favorite four Never Rules – next month I’ll share my best Always Rules.
Never work with anyone who treats you like you’re stupid.
Over the years, I have found that no matter how much you want a project, never put up with disrespect or abuse. If a customer refuses to treat you as a fellow human, or thinks that paying you for your product or service also buys the right to be obnoxious, flee. Life is too short and you will never be that hungry.
Never sell your product or service to someone who doesn’t understand its value.
This happens when we make assumptions about the customer’s knowledge level. It is our job as businesses to make sure our customers understand not only what they are buying, but how it will benefit them and why it is valuable. People often don’t even know what assumptions they’re making because the assumptions are unconscious. Sometime it’s wishful thinking; sometimes it’s based on a customer’s previous experience that has nothing to do with you and your offer. So always try to identify a customer’s knowledge gaps and take care of them. Otherwise you run the risk of bad surprises, especially at invoice time.
Which brings me to:
Never let your client set your price.
It is our job to set a correct value on our work. We have all had the customer who wants to “break us down” or “score a deal.” I saw an example of this at a hotel’s front desk in Illinois recently. A man came in to get a room and went right into an obviously well-practiced spiel about why the prices were ridiculous, he should get a special deal, etc. etc. His bullying did not faze the desk staff. They handled him with grace, but did not back down. (The man eventually paid a regular rate.) Even with no intention to power trip you into lowering your price, customers may often have a price assumption that is based on either wishful thinking or no thinking at all. These customers need to be gently educated (see #2).
Never ignore what your gut is telling you.
We all lapse on this from time to time, and it will nearly always come back to bite us. Many times, because we really need the job or sale, we bulldoze over that big red flag that just popped up. We do this at our peril! Little nagging voices may not be telling us what we want to hear, but they always tell us what we need to know. Slow down long enough to listen and learn – you will save yourself boatloads of suffering.