I’ve been tempted more than once to sell a client on a site that they didn’t really need.

Oh sure, in these cases maybe the client’s existing site design was ‘terrible’ or there was a better way accomplish their technical goals.

But better design and slicker features aren’t the secret formula to increasing a client’s revenue. Selling a client a new site may or may not be the best way for me to serve that customer.

I was reminded of this while reading Minding the Store by Stanley Marcus.

“no sale is a good sale for Neiman-Marcus, unless it is a good buy for the customer.” – Minding the Store

That’s a bold stance for a retailer to take, and I love it.

In Minding the Store, Marcus recounts times when Neiman-Marcus has turned down big-ticket sales ($5000 or more) simply because the item is the wrong product for the wrong person.

On one occasion, Marcus chose not to sell a mink coat for a 16-year-old girl, knowing its usefulness to her would be short-lived. Marcus not only lost profits from that sale, but endured an upset kid and her upset father storming out of the store.

The wrong project

When I have a ‘value’ discussion with a client, it’s about figuring out if my services and my costs are a good fit for their needs.

[Tweet “If I’m not a good fit for a client, I tell them that.”]

Sometimes I even get to tell clients that the work they want done isn’t worth the cost of actually doing it.

Occasionally I’ve been the only person that’s told the client that the work isn’t worth it for them.

There is no return on investment.

The turnaround

Back to that story from Minding the Store.

Turns out when dad and daughter went home, dad’s sister couldn’t have agreed more with Mr. Marcus, that a mink coat is not appropriate for a 16-year old. It’s going to wear out way to quickly.

The sister told the man to go back and buy his daughter whatever Mr. Marcus recommended because Mr. Marcus was the person in Dallas to talk to about furs. That turned the father (and daughter) in to life long customers and Mr. Marcus came up with a special coat for her wedding, it was mink.

[Tweet “When you’re the only one willing to tell a client the return on investment simply isn’t there for them, you gain trust and become the one that client is going to come back to later.”]

You’re the one that was really honest with them.

Don’t make that sale unless it’s actually worth it for the client.

photo credit: kaptainkobold cc