Behind-the-scenes advice for busy solo professionals courtesy of Michael Katz, Blue Penguin Development

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.