Where Business Strategy Goes Wrong [or Why You Need to Say NO Early]

Lit chessboard on a dark background.
 Photo by FelixMittermeier

Saying no to business prospects as a purposeful part of your business strategy is one of the few practical things that can guarantee you’re in it for the long term.

But compromise is always a part of business, someone has already thought. 

That’s true, but if approached in an unbalanced way, it can easily put holes in the very sales tactics you’re trying to improve.

Who do I listen to?

Let’s put it simply this way: 

You’ve offered a two at the price of one kind of deal to one of your prospects. They then try to get more of it in the same format. 

If you say yes just to keep them around, what kind of message are you getting across to them? 

Well, you’re letting them know that you don’t stand by how greatly you’ve talked about your product. And if you, who is supposed to support the product whole-heartedly don’t do so, what exactly is to convince them to take a leap of faith?

I’ll keep them around longer at least, the unsavvy entrepreneur chimes in looking unsure of themselves.

Sure you will. 🙄

So what? Do I just freeze leads in their tracks when it gets difficult? 

No. You just start thinking like an entrepreneur again. You’ve proven you’re good at it until you got into business with friends and big players in the game, and suddenly you don’t find yourself on the winning side anymore.

Your target audience is never everyone

Crowd of coloured silhouettes.
Photo by Gerd Altmann

Working in sales has one and only objective: bring in as much revenue as possible. That’s your mission

Your customer, however, has a different one –  to spend as little as they can to get what they want. 

It’s already an interesting dynamic.

Few things can get in the way of people who know what they want and are not intimidated to go get it. 

Business textbooks? 


Basic human decency? 

What are those? Definitely not what led the client who’s already signed with you to get you to do more for them. Not in this is a renegotiation kind of a scenario, but in a you’re going to do free work for me kind of scheme.

Saying no as soon as you spot the red flags clears your business strategy plan of issues you ultimately do not need to have. 

Working with target audiences and buyer persona demographics makes it clear that your business is not for everyone, so then don’t be for everyone.

The out of touch opportunist

You’d assume people running businesses of their own would have learned to say a definitive no as they were entering the business world. And yet you can probably think about a few individuals who ended up playing themselves precisely because they were unable to speak the word. 

Some of them admit it, cut their losses, and move on. 

Others delude themselves into the idea that they at least gained a relationship out of it. They are so determined to make something out of nothing, a laudable skill on paper, that they’ll force themselves to see wins that aren’t there. 

Good luck pitching those “accomplishments” to potential investors. See how those relationships work out.

Giving in to unreasonable demands can only set you up for more unreasonable demands. 

It’s not a let’s do it this way once and then we’ll see type of thing. There’s nothing to see because you already know what comes next: more of what you’ve taught them they could demand of you. 

No reason to be angry or to curse the client under your breath. This whole thing transparently played out right in front of you and you failed to recognize it for what it was. 

Tough luck. And you better own it because you don’t want lack of accountability right up there with your pushover tendencies. 

Stand your ground (because it’s your job)

Three men with zoomed in face features.
Photo by succo

Uncomfortable with being uncomfortable?

This is fixable. All you need is some educated practice. But perhaps you’re not entirely sure what’s at stake, so let’s get it out the way.

Learning to stand your ground with your business prospects will:

  • Make them want you more

It must have been a merchant of some sort that invented the hard to get plot. 

The busier you make yourself to be, the more others will want a piece of what you’ve got going on. 

This is great because you start your collaboration with your customers already understanding that you have multiple clients to attend to and as much as you want to do right by them, you want to do right by all who trust you with their money.

  • Save you time

And if anything from business strategy basics rings true no matter the context is that time is money. 

If through some miracle you don’t get tired of the back and forth, your demanding customers eventually will. Once they’ve found something that accommodates their needs better, they’ll be taking their requests to those lucky individuals. 

And despite having constantly buzzed you while trying to get you to freely respond to their piling demands, they won’t give you a minute more to negotiate when they decide they are done with you. 

Aren’t you glad you spent so much time nurturing that lead?

  • Help you improve your product/ service 

Track the scenarios in which you had to stand your ground in front of your customers. 

You should have a clear overview of how often you do it, what kinds of customers are likely to put you in that situation, how exactly you have broken it down for them, and most importantly, what were the direct consequences. 

Do this for 6 months then pull your customer service, sales, marketing as well as R&D teams in a meeting where you go over the data. 

Remodel your processes and procedures according to the gathered info, and you significantly decrease the number of instances in which you have to have the uncomfortable boundaries-setting conversation with clients who conveniently forgot the terms of your collaboration. 

See? Your effort was not in vain. That’s how you don’t let anything go to waste without being delusional. Maybe those investors will give you the time of their day after all.

Opinion and Commentary

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