No more mister nice guy

A client calls me at least once a day, pushy, demanding and impatient, even though things are moving along well for him.

A second client informs me while driving to a sales call that his goal is to get another meeting. He is startled when I slam my hand on the dashboard and yell that the purpose is not to get another meeting, but to make a sale.

Guess which is from New York City and which is from Cleveland?

My New York client has a terrific young company. He has product in the market, has obtained purchase orders from multinational companies and is driven to succeed. The president is a good guy, but he wants things done now and he isn’t going to let niceties stand in his way.

The Cleveland client is a brilliantly creative guy, yet even though his company does impressive work, it remains a small niche player in a huge market. Its chief mover and shaker likes to move, but abhors shaking.

He finds it discourteous to ask for an order, instead expecting that his presentation will make his audience rush forward looking for where to sign.

Cleveland entrepreneurs want to be your friend. They don’t want to offend. Many were amazed when Athersys’ Gil Van Bokkelen dared to make demands on civic, academic and financial institutions.

Van Bokkelen knows his company’s needs and has no intention of letting niceties keep him from going after them.

When is the last time you made demands for your enterprise?

Have you called your professionals demanding that work be done on time? Have you buttonholed the press? Have you pushed investors? Do you ask for orders, commitments and money? Do you demand that employees excel and demand enough from yourself? Do you push and push, and then push again?

I met a lot of nice people at the recent Superior Viaduct event, but only one who was aggressive enough to have an e-mail waiting for me the following morning. If I had nothing to offer others with whom I spoke, they should have moved on to meet with someone of more value to them. But many were too nice, and instead burned up valuable networking time.

Focus solely on commercializing your product, technology or service and getting proper funding. Then, attack the market with abandon. It is not about being nice, it about getting it done. Erwin Bruder ([email protected]) is chief economist & managing director of emerging enterprises at Prim Capital Corp. Reach him at (216) 830-1111, ext. 2220.