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When No means Not Yet: A Principa Alliance Member’s Experience

December 23rd, 2013

In a presentation I do on professional selling I try to make the point that if a prospect says “no” it never means “never”. People make decisions based on “where they are at” at the time of making the decision and their natural inclination is to resort to the status quo because that’s the way we humans are wired.

The essence of this wiring is to present our mind with three fears: the fear from uncertainty, the fear of failure and the fear of looking stupid as a result of doing something we have not done before or which is different to the rest of the pack. These fears have played a critically important role in our survival and consequential evolutionary development but the dangers that we faced when this evolution was taking place, for the most part, no longer exist e.g. being eaten by sabre teeth tigers, starvation by moving too far from known sources of food, poisoning from eating the wrong food etc.

Against this mental hard-wiring is the fact that life is a moving parade which means that circumstances change and with that change comes a different perspective on the risk involved in change and therefore the level of fear it engenders.

This is why I quickly learned that is a client says “no” to a proposal to help I always asked if I could raise it again next year. I NEVER had a “no” response to that request. It kept the door open and reminded the client that I cared deeply about the work I did and was committed to helping him/her.

A couple of days ago I received an email from one of our Alliance Members, John Niemann, that reminded me of the importance of not letting a “no” discourage us. It also brings to the surface a couple of other points that are worthy taking notice of:

First, a planning session will not always result in an immediate engagement but it will always result is a client seeing us through a totally different lens to the view of a traditional accountant. In this sense it is a fantastic positioning opportunity that will often lead to a subsequent engagement and/or a referral.

Second, John reminded me of the need to think outside the box and what a profoundly important thinking catalyst GamePlan can be. Analysis always leads to synthesis and synthesis leads to results. John’s story drives this home.

A while back, I received a call from one of my favorite clients.  Let’s call him Scott.  He owns a $2 million home remodeling/construction company.  I facilitated a Planning Session with him last December.  The event exceeded his expectations, but it didn’t lead to any additional consulting work—he’s too busy working IN, and he knows it.

On this occasion, he had specific question.

Scott was considering hiring a construction supervisor, but he didn’t know how it would affect his bottom line.  He wanted my advice.

Many CPA’s would have said something like, “Well, Scott, you’re on track to generate the same amount of revenue that you did in 2012.  If that’s the case, you should hold off for now.  That level of activity will not support the new supervisor’s $60K salary.”

Instead of this kind of knee-jerk advice, I asked him to send me his year-to-date financials.  I input his data into GamePlan (because we’d just had a planning session, I’d already input his historical data).  All told, it took me about 20 minutes to input his 2013 YTD info.  I spent another 15 minutes with the “What If” Analyzer.  I sent him the “Profit and Cash Flow Drivers” report.

I called him a few days later to discuss.

I said, “Scott, you’re having a great year.  If you want to hire a new supervisor, though, you’ll need to increase your revenue beyond your current expectations by about $300K.  That means you’ll need to sell about 3 more jobs than you’ve already projected.”

As it turned out, he had 4 open bids which would generate the requisite increase in profit to support the additional payroll.  He hired the supervisor.

We worked together to define tasks and processes for the new hire.  Moreover, he engaged me to set up his accounting system to handle job costing, estimates, progress billings, etc.

I’ve trained the new hire to generate estimates and perform job cost analyses.  As a result, Scott now has 40% more time to follow up leads and generate new business.

I spoke with him yesterday.  His profit is up 15% over last year (after considering the new hire), he has nearly $1M in his pipeline, and he’s taking 3 weeks off for the holidays.

GamePlan.  Experience the difference!

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