A Leader, a Manager, a Consultant or Business Advisor have all heard that phrase before. Usually from a frustrated person whom you have either refused to work with or who are experiencing frustration over your working relationship. While in this article I will focus on the former, the lessons learned here can be beneficial in the latter. So why are decisions made to not work with someone? Why would they ask out loud or silently, “Why Won’t You Work With Me?”
I don’t accept as clients everyone that I talk to. It is a simple matter of math. There are only so many hours and days in a week and my Team and I can only work with a finite number of clients. There are also those who simply would not be a good fit for me. This same issue holds true for anyone else. Capacity, the amount of work you can do well and still maintain the high quality that you are known for, limits what you can do. In many instances that is the short simple answer. I do maintain a client waiting list, as do many other B2B professionals. The wait may or may not be to the individuals liking but as the saying goes, “it is what it is.”
Sometimes, however, we must actually tell someone that they are not a good fit as a client. This could be for many reasons and we’ll look at several. Sometimes, however, the fit just isn’t there. The industry of the business may not be compatible with what the provider does. The business size may not be compatible. In my line of work, it is common for people to identify the size business they work with based on their annual sales. For example, someone may only work with businesses between $2M and $20M in annual sales, such as myself. Sometimes that number isn’t carved in stone and smaller or larger businesses may be considered. Sometimes the decision about size has everything to do with the number of employees or the number of locations. Sometimes its geography such as “only in the State of Wisconsin” or “Only in the Midwest.” The point is that sometimes your company simply doesn’t match the type of businesses that these providers work with.
Other considerations could be more behavioral. In a recent roundtable discussion I facilitated it was determined that around 5% of businesses in a certain size were a good fit for these providers to work with. Primarily this was due to the limiting beliefs of the owner or owner ego. Both of which can be fatal to a strong working relationship with one of these professional providers.
As a general rule, I determine suitability based upon size and type of business coupled with the 3 C’s. These are:
The 3 C’s
Commitment – The business owner must be committed to the process. Creating the desired outcomes for businesses that I work with (frequently sales increases of 3X their current level and comparable profit increases) requires more than a few months. Most people who do what I do seek contracted periods of at least 12 months but preferably 2-3 years. The business owner must be committed to this.
Collaboration – The engagement with a Business requires the business owner be involved. Simply hiring someone and not participating will not work and is a waste of time and money. The business owner must participate in the process willingly and over the long term.
Change – Everything done by a B2B Advisor or Consultant results in change. If change is not the desired outcome then don’t hire the business advisor or consultant. You must be willing to change if you work with one of these individuals. That change is constant, far-reaching and challenging.
Not every business is compatible with a Business Advisor, Consultant or other professional. Further, not every Business Advisor, Consultant, or Professional is compatible with you. The simple rules of Like, Respect and Trust, always come into consideration. Simply put, if you simply don’t like the person, why work with them? The relationship between you and one of these professionals relies heavily on those 3 things. If they don’t exist then the relationship most likely will never accomplish the results either of you want.
So the next time a Business Consultant, Advisor or other Professional says “I won’t work with you” either directly or more tactfully, consider that it is one of the reasons I’ve outlined here. It could be you need to change or it could be that the appropriate fit of size, industry, purpose or behavior simply isn’t there. It could be that after a few moments you both decided you didn’t like each other. It doesn’t matter. There is always another way.