Know when to say no to a sale

Growth is very exciting for any organization. With it come exciting challenges, new opportunities and, hopefully, increased profitability. Growth causes an emotional response.

As the leader, the growth of your annual sales is just one of many ways that your performance is measured. We’ve all heard the cliché, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” Here’s the thing, though; too much growth too soon will most certainly kill your organization.

As head of your business, it is your responsibility to protect it from harm. The best leaders know which jobs to no-quote. Most organizations have a sales department, and the best salespeople want to win every single bid; they hate to lose.

However, it is your responsibility to know when to say no. Rest assured, you will have a fight on your hands with your sales team — remember, they want to win every bid — but it will be a fight you want to win.

One of my favorite leadership principles is, “If you can measure it, you can manage it.” You will find that most decisions you have to make can be converted into some sort of math-based formula. The cost of growth is a perfect example; if you are a service provider, you will have to provide your service for a number of weeks prior to receiving payment from your customer.

If you sell a product, you will have to front the costs of the machinery or materials needed to manufacture your product prior to making any sales. The cost of growth is measurable, which makes it manageable. Figure out what your cost of growth is and manage that growth.

Delivering on promises

The second component of growth is the delivery of the requested product or service. Can your company successfully deliver what is requested by a customer, when it is requested? Again, the delivery of your product or service is measurable. You could measure the successful delivery of your product or service through a project plan, with weekly planning meetings for your operational team.

The best project plans have numerous deadlines leading up to the delivery date of your product or service. You know that most salespeople will promise the moon to customers and potential customers; delivering the stars is not good enough. It’s your responsibility to ensure that your organization actually delivers what your customer purchased from you. If you can’t, or there is doubt that you may not be able to, then you should no-quote the work.

Michael Hammer and James Champy, of Re-engineering the Corporation, once said, “An organization becomes bewildered rather than energized when it’s asked to do too much at once.” Yes, as the leader, it is your responsibility to grow the business. It is also your responsibility to protect your business. Don’t fear the truth. If the truth is that you can’t afford the cost of growth, then issue a no-quote.

If the truth is that your company won’t be able to deliver the product or service to standard and on time, then issue a no-quote. The best leaders know when to say no. Controlled growth equals sustainability. ●

Dennis W. Lejeck is founder and president of Black Knight Security

Dennis W. Lejeck

Founder and President


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