Learning how to say “No” is one of the hardest things I have had to learn in my business. As a freelancer it is a survival instinct to say, “Yes “ to every client, every request and every chance to earn a living and grow your business. BUT – being a yes man or lady, has been the downfall to many a business.
I am going to start with giving you a couple of scenarios, I am sure we have all been in, said yes when really we should have said NO.
Scenario 1 You’re a website designer and developer, a new client gets in touch asking “How much will a new website be?” You explain that to give an accurate quote you will need some information, when are they free to meet and discuss? They explain” We are very busy and wont have time to meet, could you just send a cost for a basic website?” You outline a basic 5 page no ecommerce site and give them a price. NO NO NO !!!! If they don’t have time to tell you what they want – they are not dedicated to the project and a massive alarm bell should be ringing.
Scenario 2 Again I will use the website designer and developer, you are half way through your project with the very busy client above. You have been very clear about the deliverables and content they need to provide, and they agreed to the schedule provided, but dates start to come and go. Content delivery date was due last week, you get in touch and they say” Oh yes we are so sorry, we are working on it but have decided to add a few new services which means we will now need 10 pages instead of 5, that wont be a problem will it, we will have content ready by the end of the week” NO NO NO !!! This is called scope creep and it basically means you work harder for the same money and the project drags on foreeevvverr.
My point with these scenarios is – quiet often there are little things that happen that ring alarm bells and you know you should have said no at a certain point but didn’t and because of that a project over runs. When you work out your hourly rate at the end of the project you would have earn’t more and Maccas.
Here are my top 5 “I should have said no at this point” tips
- A client doesn’t have time to discuss the project before you even quote, which indicates a lack of commitment in the project
- A client try’s to heavily negotiate your quote, If they do this from the start they don’t value the work you are doing, BIG warning sign.
- The client asks for this “ Could you just knock up a quick website for me? It’s a simple job, just copy and paste really” yes we’ve all heard that one before.
- I need a full marketing plan, photography and e commerce website by the end of the month” Unrealistic deadlines means trouble from the start.
- Before you start on the project the client tells you how they have not been able to work with their last 3 designers, moans about their bad work and them missing deadlines. Remember you are only hearing one side of the story in this situation.
So the next part which often trips people up is HOW to say no without sounding unprofessional and ungrateful
- Always explain why When you say no, always give an explanation, you don’t want to burn bridges and if you can clearly explain why you have to say no this goes along way in relationship building.
- Be gentle No one likes being said no to, so be careful about your language, use terms such as “We understand your situation” or “We are afraid that is outside of our control”
- Offer an alternative There is a way round every issue, so always offer them an alternative – this way you are putting the decision back onto the client, something like “ I am afraid we are unable to offer that service, but we feel this option could work even better for you”
- Don’t be afraid Remember you are the expert, your client originally came to you because they couldn’t do it themselves, so show them how your expertise have helped other clients to grow their business.
- Be confident in your abilities, and in the knowledge that if that client isn’t right for you another perfect client is just around the corner.