该对客户说“不”时,也许还被动变主动

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作者:卡丽 . 克彭(Carrie Kerpen译者:东田

       正如肯定回应“是”之同等重要那样,有时,它甚至说“不”还更为关键,即便疑似不可能。

       2016年,讨喜媒体正处前途无量。我们扩展之营业额名列前茅的同时,也确保着底线之盈利额之相向增进。为此,十分不易。这意味着:我们赢得更多业务量的同时,却相应较少营运成本。而且,我们还赢得了众多客户的满意。他们不但觉得我们很讨好,且还惊人地可爱。除了由于运气使然,我们唯一最大的客户非同此感受以外。

       我们最大客户之业务量,约占我们营业额之百分之二十五。这种情况之所以特别,就在于,所有某客户和代理关系之间出现的障碍,通常都发生于此,而我们则以我们的优势运作之。首先,公司业已与其他公司合并,而我们不得不与该正在与受让人打交道的代理行竞争商机。我们终整体揽括了全部业务。

      紧接着,一个新的首席营销官便上岗了。而这又恰恰是代理行都被解雇之唯一的最大理由。因为,那些首席营销官们,有着他们自己的议事日程和他们自己的关系网,并且有必要使之迅速强化该影响力。我们也只能设法赢得她的信任。

      突然,来了个市场营销副总裁。他的到来,犹如闯进了陶瓷店的公牛—-他就纠缠于大牌机构,而我们则是个小型的独立单位。我们必须努力付出以赢得他的善意。而我们确实这么做了,那就是,通过我们的巨大付出以及提出我们对品牌推出的朝向预判。他甚至给予了我们更多的业务机会,而我们也暂且上了个档次地起着替代了他们的全数码市场营销团队。而当时他正欲物色合适的人选到他手下工作。

       当他们需要一位社交媒体的领班,以牵头接洽我们代理行,并引领他们的数码社交努力时,我便帮其物色了一个我司前副总裁。而她当时倒是随时接受新的挑战,便接纳了这份差事。我也总算喘过了一口气。有着两位坐实了的老资格关键关系网,而我本“人”到位于天天的角色,我也算得心应手了。

      由于客户的联络方式改变了,而他们的地址也就相应发生了变化。忽上忽下、全方位地转着。当我们正专注于运用社交媒体来为他们带来营业额时,他们却要求“竞标创意来得酷些”。那么,“酷”的定义则变得越来越具挑战性。而首席市场营销官所言之“酷”,则区别于副总裁之“酷”—— 而我们天天之联络,则看似置身于中间,欲让她认可的独特标志。突然间,尽管我们关系在建立着,然而,对于该客户而言,我们已不再新颖、不再闪光、不再“酷”。

       因此,当副总裁电话中告诉我,他们想以竞标式发包生意—— 而我们并未出啥错,且干得非常好,甚至效果堪比其任何他们过去所曾获得时,我并不感到太吃惊。他们想看看“还可否有得比较“。—— 同时,他还说,我仍有着极大优势能持续生商机,尤其是,我已经如此了解他们。而我只不过是参与投标的过程、并与其它“竞标”代理行一起递标罢了。

       当你是个企业家,并看到你办公室外、看到四十多个在职员工时,会令人顿感巨大的承担。我知道,团队于客户而言,确实是喜欢我们的。然而,他们十分困惑于自己的目标,常就此唠叨来、唠叨去。同时,我也清楚,由于他们是如此一个大客户,我们也耗费大量无谓的时间服务他们,与此同时,他们自身的无知,也导致我们付出了许多双倍的工作量。他们曾是我们赚最低利润的客户之一,然而,却曾是我们品牌客户之一,即,对于员工、客户以及受让人而言,那颇具感召力的客户。另外,若我得提醒您的话,那么,他们占据这我们百分之25的营业额呢。

       那么,你们认为我当时该怎么做呢?难道我还得造作诚府一番、集合起队伍、并赶紧投入竞标程序吗?且我还得着手大张旗鼓地向其演示一番、我们所做所为已是多么了不起,且还预设了巨为“酷帅”的前瞻远景吗?我当然不干咯。

       我等待了两天。我注视着员工们,对于他们收支之份量,在内心深处由里到外地碾轧着我。我核算了一下,我们目前的合约还有多少剩余时间,以及我得需要打造出多生意才至于创收我们可能失去的业务额,并且2017年伊始,便可“咣当”开干。

      然后,我便直接给市场营销官发出如下电邮:

      我想亲自知照您(且心怀敬重),我们放弃参与您们的招标程序。作为一个业者,有关投标行业务,我有着某种强烈的哲学信念。即便我喜欢市场营销官(我也确实是)并且我也看到了其于商机而言的潜力(我确实这么认为),然而,我仍不认为,一个能力已胜任的代理行,还须得参与这类投标程序以赢得未来的业务。

      标业务程序的实质则意味着,你们觉得我们简直就是没“明白”。并且,即便我们联手的成功,却也未能让我们向你们证明,我们的战略思维,将更为促进你们生意。我们本欲予赢得你们2017年生意的资源、时间以及付出,已最佳投入予确保,你们2016年的业务之完美无瑕收官—— 且我们的团队亦将被予挂钩、兴奋,并进一步有助于你们赢取巨大的成效。

       这是迄今为止,我所说出的 “不”字中最大的一个。拒绝那投标程序,着实令人头痛之害怕。然而,若参与其中,那将不过是浪费时间、浪费资源——就犹如:在徒劳无益试欲挽回一个、其心已非你所属的男朋友罢了。

      于是,我们失而复得了生意额。却并非没有许多血汗和泪水的付出……然,我们做到了。业务还做得更好了。

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英语原文如下:

I said no to my biggest client. Losing their business was the best thing for mine.

By Carrie Kerpen

As important as saying yes is, sometimes it’s even more important to say no, even when it feels impossible.

In 2016, the sky was the limit for Likeable Media. We grew both the top-line revenue number and the bottom-line profitability number simultaneously, which is tough to do. It means that we won more business, and spent less to run that business, and were still filled with satisfied clients who didn’t just find us likeable, they found us pretty darn loveable. Except for, as luck would have it, our single largest client.

Our largest client represented approximately 25 percent of our revenue. This was a bizarre situation, because every obstacle that usually dooms a client/agency relationship had happened here, and we had it work to our advantage. First, the company merged with another company, and we had to fight for the business against the agency that was handling the acquirer. We won the whole shebang.

Then a new CMO was put in place, which is the single biggest reason agencies get fired: CMOs have their own agenda and their own relationships and need to make an impact quickly with those. But we managed to gain her trust.

Suddenly, a new VP of marketing came in like a bull in a china shop—he was obsessed with big-name agencies and we were a small independentWe had to work hard to win his heart, but we did, with our great work and our vision for where the brand could go. 。He gave us even more business, and we temporarily stepped up to act in lieu of their entire digital marketing team while he searched for the right people to work underneath him.

When they needed a head of social media to serve as our agency contact and to head up their digital social efforts, I tapped a former VP from my agency who was ready to take on a new challenge and referred her to the job. I breathed a sigh of relief. With the two senior key relationships solidified, and my “person” being placed in the day-to-day role, I was golden.

As the client contacts changed, so did their direction. It went up, it went down, it went all around. While we were focused on using social media to generate revenue for them, they wanted “award-winning creative that was cool.” Defining cool became a bigger and bigger challenge. The CMO’s cool was different from the VP’s cool—and our day-to-day contact seemed to be in the middle, wanting to make her own unique mark. Suddenly, despite our relationship building, we were not new, shiny, or “cool” for this client. So when the VP called to tell me they’d like to RFP the business—that we’d done nothing wrong, that we’d done great work, and we’d gotten them better results than they’d ever had—I was only half-surprised.  They wanted to see “what else was out there”—and he said I had a great shot to retain the business, especially since I knew them so well. I’d just have to participate in the proposal process and present with all the other agencies that were “out there.” When you’re an entrepreneur, and you look out of your office and see forty-plus employees, it can feel like a tremendous weight to bear.  I knew that the team at the client did like us, but that they were confused about their own goals, waffling back and forth constantly.  I also knew that because they were such a large client, we spent an inordinate amount of time servicing them, and their own lack of clarity created a lot of double work for us. They were one of our least profitable clients, but they were also one of our name brand clients— one that was sexy to future employees, clients, and acquirers. Also, might I remind you, they were 25 percent of our revenue.

So, what do you think I did? Did I pull up my big-girl pants, gather the team, and get crackin’ on the RFP? Did I set out to do a big dog and pony show, showing off all of the great work we’ve done and setting a big grand vision of “coolness” for the future?

I absolutely did not.

I waited two days. I stared out at the staff, the weight of their payroll crushing me from the inside out. I calculated how much time we had left in our current contract, along with how much business I needed to generate to make up the revenue we’d be losing and start 2017 with a bang.

I sent an email directly to the CMO., I wanted to let you know personally (and with great respect) that we are declining to participate in your RFP.  As a business owner, I have a strong philosophy about RFPs. Even if I love the CMO (which I do) and I see the potential for the business (which I do), I don’t believe that an incumbent agency should participate in an RFP for future business.

The reality is that the decision to RFP the business means that you feel that we are simply not “getting it.” And, despite our success together, we have been unable to demonstrate to you that our strategic thinking will move your business forward. The resources, time, and effort we would spend trying to win your 2017 business is best spent ensuring that your end of year 2016 business is executed flawlessly—and our team will be engaged, excited, and pushing forward to get you great results.

This was one of my biggest “NO”s to date. It was damn scary to turn away from that RFP. But participating would be a waste of time and resources—kind of like trying desperately to win back a boyfriend who just isn’t into you. I walked away with my head held high.

And yes, we replaced the revenue. Not without a lot of blood, sweat, and tears… but we did. With better business to boot.

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