Friday at last and some Foodie Fun to go with it. I have a question for you today. When you sit at a restaurant and the server tells you all the specials, do you ask for one of each? Probably not. You may have also suffered as you listened to a server pitch you some dish you don’t really want but for which the chef overbought the ingredients and needs to sell a bunch. You just say “no thanks” and move on. So why is that so hard for someone to do the same in business?I used to listen to a lot of product pitches. New companies, emerging technologies. Most had the germ of a good idea somewhere within. Sometimes DEEP within. Rarely, that good idea was married to a terrific executive team. Even more rarely, that team had a screamingly good business model to go long with the great idea and fantastic staff supporting it. Those were the times where I said – screamed – YES! Sometimes I made Meg Ryan‘s famous screaming scene at Katz’s Deli look tame. But not often.
Most of the time, my team and I looked at mediocre ideas, non-existent business models, presented by inexperienced executives (that’s not an age comment – some folks just had no clue). It would have been easy to give them some vague encouragement, to ask them for more detailed proposals, or to send them off with 25 questions to answer. But we didn’t. Instead, we said “no thanks” and let them know why.
It’s a waste of your time and theirs to do otherwise. It’s unfair and cruel to give false hope when you have no intention of partnering. We don’t tell the servers we’d like to think about the special entree offerings but bring us a steak while we think about them. We express our thoughts and move on.
Do you run the risk of being labeled “tough” or “blunt” or worse? Maybe. I liked to think “honest” and “fair” would be on that list as well. But even if it’s not, my thought is that everyone is way too busy to waste time – in this case, their own, their team’s and the potential vendor’s.
To quote the phrase that’s so popular these days – have a grown-up conversation. Just say “no” and let’s move on. Hopefully next time, it will be “yes.”