#111: Biggest Myth About Saying “No” to Clients

May 16, 2021 | Working with Clients

How do you think your clients are going to respond if you deny them what they want? Especially if the thing you are denying is something they are used to receiving?
 
While it’s true that clients are never happy when you deny them, it’s a myth that they will always get angry.
 
It’s also a myth that clients will get fed up and stop working with you if you turn them down. Not so! The irony here is that the more accommodating you are, the less your clients will value you – and the more they will expect.
 
This month’s theme is Destress Your Business and in today’s episode, I give you strategies on how to get comfortable with saying ‘no’ to clients plus the best way to say ‘no’ to a client and have that client not resent you for it.

Welcome to Systems Sunday, this month’s theme is Destress Your Business. I am Lisa Wells, your Virtual Assistant Trainer.

In today’s episode, I will tell you the Biggest Myth About Saying “No” to Clients.

How do you think your clients are going to respond if you deny them what they want? Especially if the thing you are denying is something they are used to receiving?

While it’s true that clients are never happy when you deny them, it’s a myth that they will always get angry.

It’s a myth that clients will get fed up and stop working with you if you turn them down. Not so! In fact, saying no to the occasional project gives you some mystique. You don’t want to seem TOO available, or it’ll appear like you don’t have enough work to fill the hours.

The irony here is that the more accommodating you are, the less your clients will value you – and the more they will expect.

Here’s what you can do to get comfortable with saying ‘no’ to clients:

Practice saying “no” to urgent requests. It can be hard to turn down work from valued clients, but remember that we teach people how to treat us. If someone calls at 10 a.m. asking for a deliverable by 4 p.m. and you say yes, you’ve set a precedent. Say no and hold firm.

One architect had a habit of telling people projects would take three times as long as he knew they would – partly because unexpected hitches always occurred, and giving his team a long lead time meant they would never stress a deadline.
But when projects were completed well in advance, he held an iron policy of delivering it to the client on the due date – never before. Meanwhile, his clients were delighted because projects came in on time: They never complained that projects weren’t early, because the architect had taught them to expect the finished project on deadline day and not before.

Value your time. Saying no may mean walking away from money, but it also means valuing your time. Even if you’ve got space in your schedule for a rush job, it’s still OK to say no if taking it will mean being frantic, stressed, and overwhelmed.

If it means damaging your health or letting down important people in your life, it’s especially important to value your time.

You’re better off giving yourself breathing room so you’ve got the bandwidth to handle other, better work.

That being said, there are ways to say no in a fashion that is more comfortable for you and less disappointing to your client. Ironically, one of the best and most proven ways is to add extra dollar value on outrageous or inconvenient requests. As in, “Yes, I’ll work evenings – but I have to charge you double for an evening session.” Or, “Yes, I can do an overnight rush job. I’ll need payment up front and there’ll be a premium surcharge for Rush Service.” (Only do this one, however, if you really don’t mind working when you said you wouldn’t… for a healthy price.)

Giving your client an alternative is another effective strategy. For example, “I’m not available on Saturdays, but I can fit you in on Thursday evenings if daytime during the week is not convenient.”

Using positive language is another helpful strategy. For that, reframe your mindset and watch out for overkill, if saying ‘no’ is new to you. And by ‘positive language,’ think positive phrases and words.

There are words that trigger clients over to the Dark Side of negative reaction, including “can’t,” “won’t,” and “never.” Getting a better reaction from a client can be as simple as saying “I spend time with my family on the weekends” or even “We’re closed weekends,” rather than saying, “I never work weekends.”

Instead of saying, “I’m not available on Fridays,” try saying, “My hours are ten to five, Monday to Thursday.”

Write it down – if you really want to take the personal rejection out of saying ‘no,’ make sure it’s clearly written and emphasized in your client literature – in contracts, brochures, welcome letters, onbaording calls. People tend to think of things they read in ‘official’ documents (such as contracts) as cast in stone.

Also, consider whether or not your client’s expectations are realistic. Is she flexing her muscles because she feels entitled or is she having a genuine emergency? Is she seriously limited by a change in your policy? Can you afford to lose her?

No matter what decision you come to or how you try to handle it, the best way to say ‘no’ to a client and have that client not resent you for it lies in deciding how to handle objections and phrase your denials well in advance.

Create your own cheat sheet, script, or policy for dealing with unreasonable requests or client objections.

And remember, any client who becomes difficult and unpleasant over a denial is most likely a stressful client that you don’t want to keep!

If you’d like a shortcut in ways to destress your business, check out my Business Building Action Kit: 7 Ways to Destress Your Business over in my shop. These action kits contain a full done-for-you action plan to give you guidance, resources, and keep you on track with checklists and worksheets.

In the next episode, we’ll talk why outsourcing can save your sanity. Have a great week!

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