Do you burn your bridges?
James over at Men with Pens asked an interesting question today. He described a situation where he was exchanging emails with a potential client, discussing possible permutations of what they needed, how much work was involved, the amount of time it would take. All the responsible things you ask before you provide a quote on how much the job is likely to take.
Then he sent his estimate and … crickets. The prospect might as well have been hit by a bus, it was so silent at her end.
He followed-up and was told bluntly, briefly, that it was outside their budget. End of conversation.
How much can a simple “No, thank you” cost?
Now, we’ve all gotten those “drive-by” quote requests. Somebody sends you an email asking for a quote, you write back to ask for more information, and that’s it. Nothing else. They dropped from the grid. I liken that to those telemarketers that ring more than one number at a time and then respond to the first call answered … leaving the other households answering a phone with nobody at the other end. It’s a minor annoyance, but the only effort involved was answering the phone.
But, when you’ve had an actual conversation (whether via email or not), it’s just downright rude to drop it without at least some kind of response.
James goes on to talk about the possibilities of negotiating a mutually-acceptible fee (and I recommend you read the post AND all the comments, because they’re interesting).
I want to talk about the simple rudeness.
Don’t Leave People Hanging!
We live in a busy, busy world. Time is money. Everybody is busy. Idle chit-chat comes as we whiz past each other on the highway of our lives.
Simple courtesy, though … and this is important … Simple courtesy doesn’t cost you anything.
If you’ve been corresponding, no matter how briefly, let the other person know it’s over. You don’t have to get wordy or emotionally involved. Just be civil. After idly chatting with someone at a party do you just walk away? No. There’s usually at least a “Catch you later,” or even just a nod of the head before you head off to talk to someone else. If you just abruptly turn on your heel and march away without a word, you’re going to leave a dumbstruck, confused person behind … and this person knows lots of other people that you know (which is why you’re at the same party).
Don’t Burn your Bridges … Unless You’re in the Loot and Plunder Business.
Global or not, the business community may be smaller than you think. If you stick it to one company, they’re going to spread the word, and you never know how far that bad reputation is going to spread.
Manners are cheap. All it takes is one sentence in an email (“Thanks anyway, but that’s outside our budget.”). Two, if you want to be really nice and say, “Thank you for your time,” also.
What? You don’t want to confess your shoestring budget to the world? Be generic and say something like, “Thanks, I’ll let you know.” Most people know that the “I’ll get back to you” statement pretty much means that they’re unlikely to hear from you again … yet, it still keeps it civil. A curt “Bye” on the phone is still better than hanging up on someone.
I’m not saying to get all gushy, or that you need to go dig out your “Miss Manners” encyclopedia to find out how you say no to a business prospect. We all know you’re too busy for that. I’m just saying that it doesn’t hurt to say “So long” before you slam the phone down on someone’s ear.
Anything Less is Just Burning your Bridges
You can only really afford to burn your bridges if you’re in the Loot and Plunder business. If you actually plan to just hit one business after another, and never retrace your footsteps on your path to world domination, then, hey, saying please and thank you probably isn’t necessary.Who’s going to stop you?
But, if you’re responsible business person (and I know you are), you need to act responsibly.
And that, no matter how busy you are, means just a little, basic courtesy.