What I've Learned In Business: Don't "Convince" People

This article is part of an occasional series about what I’ve learned from running a business. You can read other articles in this series here.

I recently received this email from a reader named Patreice:

“I have a question about creating a Media Training business in Detroit. Often times, [small non-profit organizations] feel that media training is a luxury and not a necessity. How can I convince them otherwise?”

My answer? Don’t. It’s a bad use of your time.

Since starting Phillips Media Relations in 2004, I’ve encountered the same situation numerous times. Occasionally, I’ll get a call from a PR or communications professional who explains that their executives desperately need media training—but they don’t know they need it. They’ll then ask me to come meet with their executives to “convince” them that they need media training.

I sympathize with those PR or communications professionals and know exactly where they’re coming from. But I turn down those requests. They’re a bad use of my time.

Think about it this way: Could you ever imagine someone calling a dentist’s office and saying:

“My mother desperately needs to see a dentist but she refuses to go. Would you please come to our home and convince her to make an appointment? If you can get her to agree, she’d become a new patient of yours, so it would be good for you.”

The bottom line, Patreice, is that there are plenty of potential clients out there who already understand the value of media training—or, for that matter, any other services you’re selling. And it’s a whole lot easier to sell your services to them than it is to convince someone that they need your services in the first place.

So focus on finding clients who already know they need your services. Market your brand so that customers needing your services can easily find you when they seek them. And gently decline the opportunity to “convince” people who don’t think they need your services that they do.

Have you had similar experiences? How have you handled them? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.