Where there is no vision, there is no hope.
George Washington Carver
I’m a huge proponent of persistence. I believe that most of the obstacles we face in business and in life are mile markers that are necessary for our overall success.
On the wall of my office I have a plaque with the immortal words of Winston Churchill, ‘Never, never, never give up.’ Keeping one foot moving in front of the other is the only way to really get anywhere.
But regardless of my attitude toward the value and importance of persistence, there are times, especially in the life of an entrepreneur, when you need to recognize that throwing in the towel is the best course of action for you to take. Yes, I’m talking about giving up.
Well, actually I’m talking more about employing a business strategy that looks a lot like giving up from the outside but is actually a way to optimize business efficiency and output.
A few months ago I was asked to provide a sales training workshop to a small group of digital sales people and media buyers in the mobile space. As part of my due diligence, I spent some time with a client contact to review their needs. Once I had a clear list of the people who would be in attendance and what they needed to learn, I set off to create my workshop materials.
On the day of the training I met with the group and we had a fun, productive afternoon. At one point I pulled my client contact aside and asked him if the workshop was meeting his team’s needs, and he assured me it was absolutely perfect. That night I returned home feeling pretty happy about my day and the opportunity to empower this team.
So you might imagine my surprise when I received a call the next day from a senior manager of the company telling me that the people in attendance were disappointed with the workshop and that it didn’t meet their needs. I was also told that they would like me to present two more workshops as a make good to cover content more specific to their needs and marketplace.
Like many people, I take great pride in my work. It disturbed me to think that I failed in meeting my client’s needs. I also take pride in being accommodating. I realized that adding two more workshop dates was going to pretty much eat into my profits, but it was more important to satisfy my customer and walk away from a job well done even if the money wasn’t what I had expected. So I agreed.
The first thing I wanted to do was to get a clearer understanding of the specific needs of the team, so I put together a training needs assessment survey. However, before I was able to present my questions to the team, another senior manager asked to review the questions.
Understand that when creating a needs assessment the primary goal is to ask questions that shed a light on the needs of the team. This is pretty much a tool for me as a content developer. However, in this case, the manager sent back a message saying she didn’t like the questions I was asking and to submit some different questions for review. She wanted questions that focused on the needs of their specific market and how they could do a better job closing deals. I did this, but as you might understand I was starting to get a little wary of the process. I was also starting to deal with scope creep. Instead of the training program we had originally agreed upon, I was starting to create a fully customized sales consulting project.
While I like to be accommodating, I’m not exactly fond of being taken for a ride. I felt that my good graces were being trampled here and I had to make an important decision – continue to bend over backwards to meet the needs and seemingly hard to pin down expectations of the client or bow out as gracefully and professionally as possible. I opted for the latter.
Giving up is hard for me but I also started to recognize that at the current pace I was going to end up adding dozens more hours of work to a project that was pretty much already completed. I also started to realize that it was going to take a small miracle to fully satisfy this client and odds were good that, regardless of which hoops I jumped through, my payday would never arrive. During our final meeting I acknowledged that I (apparently) wasn’t the right guy to get them to where they needed to go but was glad I had the chance to work with them. Immediately after we concluded our meeting I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders!
Yes, I gave up and it was the right choice. Now I can better use the time I would have spent trying to make a client who didn’t really want to be happy, happy and can better focus on the needs of my other clients. I can use my time and emotional energy to address my plans for business growth and create new workshops that represent new opportunities.
Yes, it can sting a little, but sometimes giving up is the best strategy you can use to keep moving forward.
Rob “Spider” Graham is the founder and CEO of Trainingcraft, a provider of digital advertising, marketing and sales consulting and training solutions. He also teaches at Harvard University, Emerson College and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell on digital media development, web store creation, software programming, business strategies and interactive marketing best practices. He is the author of “Fishing From a Barrel” and “Advertising Interactively.”
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I am a successful Commercial Investment Real Estate Broker in Arizona now for 20 years and I worked with banks and their commercial REO properties for 3 years. I am also a commercial landspecialist in Phoenix and a Landspecialist in Arizona.
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We barely could give land away the last few years, but times are changing. Even in those meager years, I sold more land across the state than most other brokers. Before the real estate crash I was a land specialist in Arizona with millions of dollars of transactions, but then I had to change and also sell other commercial investment properties, which was fun, but I am a Commercial Landspecialist in Arizonal, a Commercial Land Specialist in Phoenix and love to sell land, one acre to thousands of acres.
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