Saying no is going to be a requirement if you want to have a successful business. So often, we think the only person who can ever tell us no is a customer. But sales is also a two-way street.
Sales is a relationship. It’s an exchange between a buyer and a seller. And as with any relationship, both parties have to agree to the terms. That means buyers are free to turn down any products or services that aren’t right for them. It also means that sellers can say NO to clients who aren’t the right fit.
That’s right. You have the power of NO just as much as your prospect does. And trust me, it’s just as crucial for sellers to enter into a mutually beneficial relationship as it is for buyers. When you accept a client that for whatever reason doesn’t suit you, it can be a nightmare for everyone involved. Especially you.
I know that the temptation to accept every client that comes your way is high, especially when you find yourself in a financial pickle. You’ve got bills to pay. Rent is due. And you don’t have another deal in sight. It’s scarcity mentality at its worst, and it can shake you to the core.
But believe it or not, if you accept a client out of sheer desperation, you might be setting yourself up for an even bigger disaster than not making rent this month.
You’ll be miserable. The quality of your work will suffer. And the results will be neither up to your standards nor the client’s expectations. You’ll find yourself feeling resentful of the client for being demanding, angry at yourself for giving in to fear, and you’ll probably end up souring a client relationship for good.
It’s not worth it, my friend. There’s a time and a place where you have to set your boundaries, take a deep breath, and politely decline no matter HOW desperately you think you need the sale.
Today we’re going to get into the reasons WHY you should turn down the wrong customers, how to recognize WHEN to pull the plug on the pitch, and HOW to word your rejections so that you end on as positive of a note as possible.
WHY You Need To Say NO (Reasons To Pull The Plug On The Pitch)
The client isn’t a good fit. Have you ever been on a sales call and wanted to hang up as soon as possible because you just knew that it wasn’t going to work? Call it a gut feeling, intuition, or lack of alignment. But there are moments when you get that zinger in the gut that this client just isn’t “the one.” Don’t ignore those intuitive hits. Saying no politely as soon as you can is the way to go.
You’re already overcommitted. Let’s say that you’re getting your business up and running and you need clients, pronto. So no matter who shows up, you say YES. Before you know it, you haven’t had a day off in six weeks, your calendar is jam-packed with no end in sight, and it’s packed with less than ideal clients. Now is not the time to put more on your plate. Take care of what you’ve already got before you take on even more.
The prospect doesn’t see your value. Let’s make one thing clear: it’s not your job to convince anyone of your worth. If you have any inkling that the other person doesn’t see your value, it’s best to move along. Don’t make an offer and attempt to “show them” that you’re the real deal. Take on clients who already know.
A “bad apple” will cause you time and stress. The client that sends you incessant emails and continuously badgers you with problems is going to cause you time and stress. Eventually, those bad vibes spill over into everything you’re doing. You wind up being miserable as well as tainting the work you’re doing for the clients you do love. Bad apples not only drive you crazy but also spoil your work for everyone else.
Saying NO skyrockets your value. When you say yes to everyone, you can’t give your best to anyone. That means that your value takes a significant hit. When you only take on the right clients (as opposed to everyone), you increase your self-worth and pretty soon people will have more respect for you, too. When you politely decline the wrong clients, not only will you make space for better opportunities, you’ll also kick your value into high gear.
WHEN To Say NO (Signs That You Should Stop A Sale Before It Starts)
The client is hesitant from the start. If you feel the vibe that your prospect is getting cold feet before the sales conversation even starts, it’s a good time to hold your fire. Don’t take them on thinking you’ll win them over. You owe it to yourself to work with someone who is as jazzed to work with you as you are to work with them. So if there’s any hesitation on the other end, it’s a good time to end the call.
They’re asking for too much “above and beyond.” It’s one thing to specialize your services to your client’s specific needs. It’s quite another to change your entire offer to make them happy. When I was still running FITzee Foods, I had a prospect that had some grandiose ideas about customizing prepared meals. I knew that what they wanted was not only implausible but also beyond the amount of customization we were willing to provide. If I had agreed to their terms for the sake of a quick sale, I would’ve been miserable. Set boundaries for how far you’re willing to customize your offers and if a client wants more, saying NO will benefit everyone in the end.
They ask for too many discounts. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good deal as much as the next gal. But when you’re putting yourself out there and selling your heart and soul, you’ve got to honor your value. If someone is trying to lowball you, nip it in the bud. If this is how nitpicky they are before the relationship starts, just imagine where it would go if you took them on.
HOW To Say NO (Ways To Let Them Down Easy)
Cut the cord as soon as possible. Saying no is not always easy, I admit. It’s taken me years to pick up on the cues of a mismatch and know when to end the deal. But if you know it’s a no-go, don’t let it drag on. Cut the cord as soon as possible. End the deal and move on with as little drama as you can, and everyone will be better off.
Tell them why. When you tell someone NO, naturally your prospect will want a reasonable explanation. Be honest when saying nowithout being harsh. Tell them why you feel that they aren’t a good fit with as much respect as you can. It’s as simple as saying something like, “At this point, I don’t feel that this is a good fit.” Be sure to cushion the blow with an alternative. (Which brings me to the next point…)
Have referrals on standby. Maybe this client isn’t for you, but they might be the dream for someone else. Now is the time to send them to a trusted colleague in your network. You might also recommend books or courses that will help them move ahead. Ideally, have three referral options in place for moments like this. That way you can let someone down without leaving them empty-handed.
Don’t burn the bridge (because you just never know!) People change, learn, and grow. Just because someone is not a dream client now doesn’t mean that they never will be. So be professional, supportive, and respectful. Keep the relationship cordial when saying no, and wish them the best. After all, you never know what might happen on down the road.
“Rejection puts you out of your comfort zone, which is usually where you’re at your best.” ~ Stewart Stafford, Actor
Remember that rejection goes both ways, and it’s just as uncomfortable telling someone NO as it is being told NO. But in the end, it’s the relationship that matters. It should be a mutual experience, and there should always be an even exchange. You deserve to be happy in all your relationships, business and life, and so do the people you serve.
You’ve heard before that when one door closes, another one opens but sometimes YOU have to be the one saying no. And behind that other door, you might find your ultimate dream client. Or the most inspiring project of all time. Maybe even someone who is all too happy to pay what you ask for (or even more!). The key is coming from the trust of abundance rather than the fear of scarcity. If you believe that there is something better right around the corner, there will be something better. Better for you, your clients, and your business.
Want to master the Art of the NO for yourself? Check out this video and learn for yourself WHEN saying no to a prospect is the right thing to do and HOW to say it without irrevocably ruffling anyone’s feathers. You can also to download “The Art Of Saying NO: WHEN and HOW To Politely Decline The Customer” and create your ideal exit strategy TODAY!