January 9, 2021

Reader question: “What should I do with great leads that I don’t have time for?”

Longtime reader Jonathan Quaade wrote in with a question about what to do with the great leads that he doesn’t have time to work with (shared with permission):

Hello Jonathan,

Happy holidays and hope you’re safe.

Quick question:

I’m getting a lot of requests for really exciting projects - I know a great problem haha. However, I am working full-time for the next few years to build up my skills and experience before setting up my own solo business. Therefore, I am not able to take on a lot of “side” projects.

So the question is: should I have the sales call despite knowing 100% that I cannot take on the work but potentially build an important future relationship? I’m just conscious of not wasting people’s time but just responding “I’m currently unavailable but would recommend X,Y and Z” feels a bit like a wasted opportunity.

Would love your thoughts on this, especially as this is something I imagine most successful businesses face.

Best, Jonathan

Great question, JQ!

Here are my thoughts:

  1. Getting “lots of requests for really exciting projects” is exceedingly rare for someone who doesn’t have an established and successful business. I’d recommend thinking twice about whether you really need to spend the next few years building up skills and experience. Of all the skills that one needs to have a successful business, figuring out how to get lots of qualified leads is probably the most important one. Everything else you can outsource (or pay someone to coach you on).

  2. While I wouldn’t have a sales call with someone who I knew I could not work with, I would happily have a free 30 minute call with them to see if there’s any way I could help them. I’d probably say something like, “Unfortunately, I can’t take on any big projects because my time is fully committed for the foreseeable future. But I’d be happy to jump on a quick call to see if I could help in some other way.”

  3. If I was getting a bunch of great leads that I didn’t have time to service, I’d want to keep in touch with them on a fairly regular basis. So, I’d try to get them on my mailing list to sustain awareness, increase authority, and build trust.

Hope that helps!