Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Is the (Prospective) Customer Always Right?

A contact of mine referred a small business owner who needed help registering to work with the government.  He was overwhelmed with systems and unsure how to write a capabilities statement.  I was thrilled for the opportunity.  Nothing is more fun than helping a small business owner!

When I picked up the phone, my bubble busted.  The harsh tone of the individual on the other line was short and curt.  Without hearing a word from me, he seemed convinced I was going to dupe him.  He asked my billable rate.  I told him, and he suggested I think about it and call him back. 

I called him back and again detailed costs and requirements of his project.  He wanted a guarantee he would win government work.  And a 50% price discount.  And for me to cover his company’s risk as a contingency to getting paid.  He admitted it appeared he was getting a better deal, but said there was no way he would work with me any other way.

As a new business owner, I want to put my best foot forward and help other small businesses.  I do not want my clients to feel taken advantage of, and I seek the same for myself.

With a smile and well wishes, I let this prospect know I was sorry but unable to accept his proposal. 

Although I’m one client and one project less, I am proud for having the courage to defend the value of myself and my company.  It wasn’t a paycheck, but it definitely feels worth something.

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