Disqualified in the starting blocks

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You’re going to think I’m petty. Even a prima donna.

Because this week, I disqualified a potential client. Before we’d even spoken or swapped a single email.

Why? Because he broke one of the “Daniel Golden Rules”.

(See? I warned you it was petty…)

But – before you tut “Oh get over yourself James, you big ol’ drama queen”, let me tell you about this. Because it raises a bucket of questions about you and your business.

Here goes…

This guy – we’ll call him Gilbert, because he was a bit of a Gilbert – found my number and rang in to ask about copy. The bods I pay to answer my phone did just as they should, asking Gilbert to apply for a phone call via a web page. And that’s where it went tits up.

See, Gilbert thought he was too important. Like he should be able to snap his fingers and get me on the line. Heck, he even refused to give a surname or the name of his business. He just said “I’m Gilbert, here’s my number, get James to call me back”.

Um, no Gilbert. Tis not how it works.

I ask people to apply for a call so I can vet them first. I want to see what they’re after, see if I can help them, and yes, decide if they’re someone I’d actually want to talk to.

Soz if that offends you, but I’m busy…and a miserable git…so random conversations with strangers ain’t top of my list. Plus, getting folks to apply is a pretty good filter – the timewasters don’t bother, and go bug someone else.

So there we were. Gilbert refused to play ball. And that was STRIKE 1.

Even so, I gave him a second chance. One of my minions sent him a text, linking to the web page. But did he comply?

Did he buggery.

Two minutes later, he was back on the phone claiming I’d asked him to call back!

Ooh. Sneaky, lying Gilbert.

That was STRIKE 2. And there is no STRIKE 3.

So that was it – disqualified, before we exchanged a single word.

Now, I get it. You might think I’m stubborn, or even stupid, for not budging. What if young Gilbert is a trillionaire, looking to stuff my pockets with vast treasures from the east?

Well, I’ll take the risk. Because he set off a whacking great alarm bell when he refused to go by some very simple rules.

And this is where you come in.

I hope that you have a process for talking to new customers – and I hope that process is designed to suit you as much as them. Firstly, because it’s your business, for you to run on your terms. And secondly, because it sets the ground rules at the start: “if you want to work with me, we’re doing it my way.”

Sure, the customer is free to find a desperate schmuck who’ll bend over and take their crap.

But that’s fine. Because if they break your rules early doors, you know it’s a Gateway Sin: a sign that other transgressions will come. Like scope creep…or calling you out of hours…or moving deadlines…or changing briefs. Stuff that will drive you mad, disrupt your schedule, and start a domino chain that knackers your service for other clients.

So back to the question: what rules do you set? And, do you stick to them?

I haven’t always. In the past, I let the odd client run me ragged and I’ve got the ulcers to prove it. But since I resolved to stand my ground and boot out non-compliers, my life has been way easier.

And yours will be too. Brownie’s honour.

Anyway – it’s summat to chew on, for a Friday morning. I’m not plugging owt, just sharing something that’s working well for me.

A Gilbert Filter, if you will. Patent Pending.

UK Copywriter James Daniel

James Daniel

You might not know who I am, but no doubt you've read my copy. If you've ever bought a hearing aid, a pizza oven, flat roof or vacuum cleaner. If you've hired a will writer, an IT guy or accountant. If you've been to events on marketing, acting or how to buy a business. There's every chance it started with a bit of my copy - a few simple, chatty, gently persuasive words. Ring any bells?

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