one of the hardest things to do—if not the hardest—is to tell someone you don’t want their money.

in the business world, it’s important to realize that your prospects for money now can hurt your prospects for money later. investors know this. you don’t sell stock when the market is on an up-swing. your $20 a share stock can turn into an $80 investment. but when it comes to selling services, there’s not much indication of a trend. this is what drives leaders to rash decisions.

you also wouldn’t sell stocks when they’re at rock bottom. i learned a valuable lesson when i was young (young-er anyway!) about the value of honesty and how client satisfaction changes everything. i sold produce for 5 years and in that time span, the most important sales were the sales where i didn’t sell anything.

i’m somewhat of a cantaloupe expert. i can tell you +/- 1 day when a melon will be within prime eating conditions. one day a little old lady came in the store and said she was having some company over, and that she wanted cantaloupe to serve her girlfriends. i told her “i wouldn’t buy any of those. they’re not ripe yet. these won’t be ready to eat for at least 2 days on a hot [kitchen] counter.” she said, “well then i don’t want it.” so 2 days later, she came in the store again and got a cantaloupe and said, “i’m having some friends over, can i cut this tonight after dinner?” i told her “not this one,” and found the right cantaloupe for her. the next day she came back with 3 of her friends, and they all bought a cantaloupe each. and that’s a true story, swear on my life.

when you deal with customers, what’s more important than making a sale is making the right sale. you can sell a $400 pair of high heels in manhattan, but if they’re not of high quality you’ll be working out of the bronx in no time once word spreads around. so you make a sale that benefits the customer, and if you can’t make that sale, you’re better off not making any sale.

when you talk about clients and contracts, many companies will bend over backwards to win a new buyer. some tactics are sly, others completely unsavory. any way you look at it, money is an important factor. revenues increase stock price, and stock prices make happy investors, and happy investors make the world go round. but if you’re doing so at the cost of providing poor quality products or services, then you’re just putting lipstick on the pig.

it’s important to have the guts to turn down a sale—to turn a client with cash in hand away—in order to preserve your company’s reputation for quality and building relationships. if your client wants something that you can’t deliver on, then you have to tell them that you’re unable to meet their expectations. they’ll respect you more, and while you might lose money now—later on—when they need their next issue solved, they’ll remember how you didn’t sell them a low quality product. they’ll remember the honesty that you showed, and that goes a long way to building relationships that foster financial growth.

so when you’re working on that next “big lead” and you’re about ready to close the deal, or if your client is asking for something that you can’t deliver on, remember:

don’t sell bad cantaloupe.