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  • John Kuhlman

Hell Yeah or No



I am no longer sending proposal follow-ups to prospective clients.


No more, "Hey, just checking in to see if you had any questions" nonsense.


Either we want to work together, or we don't.


I know this goes against every sales rule out there, but hear me out. You might want to stop wasting time with follow-ups too.


There's a great Zen saying that goes something like,

"How you do anything is how you do everything."

Think about that for a minute.


Now read what I'm about to say through that lens...


Over the years, I've learned that clients who are slow to respond or make a decision about starting a relationship are also going to be indecisive throughout the entire relationship.


A friend calls these people commitmentphobes. They are usually outstanding people in every area of their lives...except when it comes to making a timely decision. Ultimately, that puts a strain on the relationship.


What should have taken a day to complete now takes two weeks. Or in the case of one client I had, months.


Working with commitmentphobes is usually an exercise in mutual frustration. It's like pulling teeth from a chicken. It's painful for both parties.


When clients are paying me good money to solve a marketing problem, that money is being misspent if I'm using my time to pester them for information. Or to ask them for the fourth time to review a project.


It's a waste of our shared bandwidth.


I've also worked with clients who were responsive and made decisions quickly. That decisiveness, even if a project tanked, allowed us to keep our forward momentum and typically resulted in earning a lot of money...for both of us. 


Picking up some awesome new clients and responding to a slurry of proposal requests led to my recent "no follow-up" epiphany. As I reflected on my current and past business relationships, I realized the best clients were always decisive from day zero. I was often hired by the end of our first call or meeting.


The relationships that were less than stellar, however, often started with requests for portfolio samples (window shoppers) or proposals (tire kickers) before making a decision.

In hindsight, I realized there was no excitement from either of us in moving forward in those situations.


There's a bit of wise advice from Derek Sivers that took me a while to appreciate: "When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than "Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!" — then say "no."

If you can't go into a business relationship and make each other say, "Wow!" then you probably need to find someone who does.


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