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The Consultant’s Dilemma: People Can’t Say No | Peter Mehit

mehWe are coming up on a decade in our own business. We have worked with thousands of clients and many times that number of prospects. As independent business people, our survival depends on our ability to forecast and close work. We have a very high close rate once we’re presenting, especially in person. This has been achieved through careful study of human nature and at a high cost.

As a consultant, you need to make the prospecting cycle as tight as possible so you are not chasing leads that won’t go anywhere. We began to experience greater success when we understood the following principle: Most people can’t say no.

I don’t mean this in the sense that they will buy from you if you overcome objections or demonstrate value. Most prospects know very quickly if they see value in what you’re doing and will buy. Our experience has been the best engagements result from connections that form quickly or, if there are delays because of a competitive procurement process, you are continually building a tighter relationship as it goes on. Absent this, you are likely waiting for a ‘no’.

The reason for this, my partner and I believe, is that most people hate the idea of rejection and hence are hesitant to do it to other people. I, for one, appreciate having my attention and effort liberated by a firm ‘no’. I am now free to begin the hunt for a new client, sometimes with lessons learned. But the slow ‘no’, or worse, the ‘we’re thinking about it’ just takes up mental and emotional cycles that are better spent elsewhere.

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