… was turned down by a potential client.


He’s a financial planner; we met for coffee last week.

A nice guy who I would have enjoyed working with, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t going anywhere once I saw his reaction to my fee (I think he spilled his coffee).

But I followed up the next day with an email, and then again yesterday after I heard nothing back.

Today, he said he’s “exploring options,” “determining next steps,” “unsure which direction is best.”

Here’s the thing: People don’t like to say no. Often, when they are not interested, ether they avoid you or toss out vague “thinking about it” cliches. Or, as in this case, both.

Of course, since he didn’t actually say no, I could follow-up, keep in touch, check in periodically, etc. But we both know this is a dead end.

Instead, I emailed back to say it sounds like we are not a match but suggested we keep in touch (he doesn’t have to be a client for us to have coffee again or whatever).

Phantom prospects may give you something to add to your “sales pipeline,” but they sap your energy and waste your time.

You know when the answer is no. Better to take control and end things in a positive way.


… got buried in the bureaucracy.


I was trying to upload some documents to my son’s college web site to finalize his financial aid and pay his tuition. But the upload had a problem.

The student I spoke with in the financial aid office suggested I send it via email.

I suggested that I wasn’t enthusiastic about emailing my tax returns in the clear. I asked if there were another way.

He couldn’t think of one.

Around and around we went, until I finally asked for his street address and told him I’d snail-mail it.

Question: Do you think he would have been as unenthusiastic about helping a customer give him money if it were his own business he was representing?

When your paycheck arrives regularly regardless of what you do every day, it’s easy to forget where the money for the paycheck comes from.

As small businesses and solos, that awareness is one of our advantages.


… sent out a promotional email for a friend’s product.


He benefits, because he gets in front of people he doesn’t already know.

I benefit, because I receive a commission on any sales made.

Readers benefit, because they learn of a product they otherwise wouldn’t know about; because he let me offer them a 10% discount; and because my endorsement gives them some comfort that the man and his product are of quality (they are).

Even if you love working alone (me too), it doesn’t mean you can’t partner selectively with friends to help each other.

Note as well that you don’t need to have your own products to make money from products. (Just make sure you are confident in whomever you are promoting.)


… was hired by two different former clients.


One from six years ago.

One from I don’t even remember, it’s been so long.

In both cases … they contacted me.

In both cases … there was zero need for me to prove my capabilities.

In both cases … the “proposal” consisted of a few informal emails back and forth.

None of this happens, though, if you don’t invest at least some of your time in maintaining connections with past clients.


… was hired by a new client.


Actually, it was my son Evan and me, for our copywriting business, CopyKatz Creative.

Do we do good work? Sure.

Do we have an unusual niche? Absolutely.

But our biggest differentiator, the one that clients and prospective clients recognize and appreciate the most, is that we offer unlimited revisions of any work we do: We’re not done until you love it.

Here’s something to notice: The thing that makes us stand out the most has nothing to do with the service itself … the appeal is in the experience of buying.

If what you’re selling looks exactly like that of the competition, how you sell it can make all the difference.