Tuesday, 9 December 2014

How to say NO to a client

Why it's good to say NO in business and how to say it without offending

Why would you want to for a start? This is a very interesting subject to talk about.

Many people may be thinking 'Why on earth would you want to say no to extra work? Work means more money. Which means stability' Anybody who works for themselves or has worked for themselves in the past know how fragile it can be. Always looking ahead, planning, filling gaps.

If you are lucky you will have long term clients. Your bread and butter if you like who are there all year round, every week. You will have a great relationship with that client. You make their life easier and it's the best thing they ever did partnering with you. Sometimes they may even need you to do a little more for them during busy times but they are always there with main bulk of work you manage for them every month.

These types of contract are essential for small business owners but equally you will also always be looking for additional business. Small term projects. More long term projects. Ad-hoc work. All business coming through your door is important. So why would you ever say NO to work?

Saying NO to a current client?

I think it comes down to a lot of things. Personally, when I started out in this business just over two years ago I found it very hard to say no to clients. Well, anyone to be honest! 'You'd like me to do an additional job which you're not actually paying me for? Sure thing! No problem.' I am a people pleaser. I want to please people and I want to show them how much I can do for them.

The problem is when you take on these extra tasks, these 'would you just mind sending a few emails to these people' you start diluting your core work. The stuff you are meant to be working solidly on to really make a difference to your client. You will be taking on work in blocks of time versus payment. I found it really tough to go back to a client and say that I could do it but it would require more time therefore it would require more money.

Saying No to new business?

There are other examples I could give where I struggled to say NO. Like the time a dream client approached me to do some work for them. I REALLY wanted to work with them but, looking more deeply at the contract, I knew deep down I wasn't the right person for the job. They needed expertise I couldn't provide. Problem was..they didn't know that. They thought I could do a job for them and it would yield the results they needed. Truth be told I could have done a job for them. But it would have been a half measure. I wasn't the right person to do this job for them. But I knew someone who could make a massive difference to their business. So what did I do? Take on the contract (and the money which is what we all need when self employed) or say NO to the contract?

It was tough but I said no and I put the client in touch with another company who I respect hugely. They are now (I believe) working together and have made a huge difference to the business in a few short months.

Saying NO to offers of lower payment

Sometimes we are so keen to get business on board we can forget our own self worth. I am my own worst enemy at times for trying to hard to help someone. For accepting a contract on a 'negotiated rate' Usually it's because I know the client hasn't got a very big budget or sometimes because I just really want to work with them. The problem is too many of these type of contracts and you find yourself busting a gut for less than you should be, or need to be, paid.

Essentially you have to think of yourself and whether you can take the work on and do it justice. If the answer is no then you MUST say no to that client. All that will happen is you will become unable to meet expectations set and if you can't do that you are in very murky water. 

Here are some golden rules on WHEN and HOW to say no.

Say NO if...

1/ You are being asked to work for a hugely negotiated fee. Understand your own self worth and value. If you start devaluing your own product so will everyone else. You set your prices and your packages because you believe in them. Personally I believe Intelligent VA packages are excellent value for money versus the service given. The second we start accepting under payments is when I start undervaluing our business. Believe in yourself and your product. You are worth every penny

2/ You don't have the time to fit the project in. Set expectations and stick to them. If anything comes in which is going to detract from your own or clients expectations you HAVE to say no. As soon as you start diluting your time to fit stuff in you don't really have time for you begin to not deliver your current projects to the standard you expect of yourself and your clients expect of you. If the thought crosses your mind that you don't have the time say no. Your client will respect you for it and you keep your integrity in business as someone who delivers on what they say they will

3/ You're not the right person for project. If you don't think, deep down, you are the right fit you should be honest and tell the client. They will thank and respect you for it, especially if you are able to put them in touch with someone who can really help them. Your reputation as an honest, principled business is very important. You never know who that client knows. That no could lead you onto the perfect job for you because you were honest with them

How to say NO
1/Be open and honest. Explain exactly why you can't do the work. It's for a good reason and the client will appreciate your openess and honesty.
2/ Don't be abrupt. Be sympathetic and sincere. After all you are genuinely disappointed you're having to say no. You really would like additional work if you could do it justice. Let that sincerity come through. Make sure they know how much you'd love to do it but it would compromise other work you have going on and it wouldn't be right to say no as you can't do it justice
3/ Make sure no means no and there is no room for any interpretation. Clients may try and cajole you or even misunderstand. Always ensure everyone is on the same page. 
4/ Find someone else for them. Suggesting you can put them in touch with someone else is great in this instance especially if you can essentially fill this role for them. The client will be super grateful that the job is covered and even happier they didn't have any additional work to do to cover it. That helpful attitude goes a long way and they'll remember your support

This is a potentially awkward business conversation to have but it doesn't have to be. If you follow the above rules all will be fine and, hopefully, lead to a great relationship which could, potentially, lead to more work in the future

To find out more about what we do visit www.theintelligentvacompany.co.uk 

No comments:

Post a Comment