Have you ever struggled with saying “no” to a client but really wanted to?
When we first get our companies up and running and we’re always looking for people to do business with and “no” is the last word we ever want to use. We’re afraid we’ll turn a profitable situation away or turn people off by sending them the wrong message. So instead, we choke down that “no” and say silly things like, “sure!”, or “okay”, “that won’t be a problem”, or even, “I can do that for you”. And who suffers when we do this? We do! After all, it’s our business we’re running here and we call every shot, so we’re responsible for all those “yeses” when we really mean “no”. All that frustration and unnecessary anxiety and tightness in our chest everytime we’re with that client we can never seem to say “no” to, that’s our fault. But it’s okay to say “no”. We don’t have to be everything to our clients, nor, should we want to be. The’re a reason why the ‘Jacks-of-all-Trades’ have fallen by the wayside. If you have mastered nothing, then you will serve no one.
It’s important to learn to say no to a client, especially when you feel uneasy about a project or task or it’s not in the scope of your services. You don’t want to jump on board something and only do it half way because you didn’t like the idea from the beginning or felt pressured to get it done. Your work speaks for itself and it also reflects you and the image of your business. You don’t want to snuff your own light out because you we’re trying to do more for a client than you can handle.
Please don’t confuse saying no to not being willing to go up and beyond for a client. Most of us do that anyways, that’s probably why we’re in business (and doing fine if I don’t say so myself). There’s a difference between saying no because it’s out of your scope and/or the project or performance will suffer and just not giving your all. But there are classy ways to say no, keep the client and lift off that pressure.
- Use your networks. If there’s a service you don’t perform or at least, don’t perform well enough to have it under the microscope of a client, pass the assignment (just that portion of it) to someone you who can within your network. That colleague will appreciate the business and you won’t feel like you have to do it all when you can’t.
- Be honest with your client. Sometimes we do some much for our clients, they just expect we can do it all. Be forthcoming with your limitations without undermining the stellar service you do and have offered them.
- Assist in their search. Maybe you don’t have a friend or a colleague that you can pass of part of the assignment on to. But rather than leave your client stranded looking on thier own, join their search. It’s a great opportunity to network and it will show your clients your level of commitment.
We’re not superheros or stealthy ninjas. We can’t fix ALL our clients problems and we don’t always have to say ‘yes’ when we really mean ‘no’. It’s a better business practice when we do what we do well and stop at what we don’t.