Finding new clients as a freelancer can be challenging. It might seem counter-intuitive, but learning how to say ‘no’ might be the quickest way to grow your business!
Let’s face it, not every relationship — be it business or otherwise — is going to work out. In business, you need to be on the same page as your clients if you’re going to have a prosperous working relationship either in the short- or long-term. If you sense a lack of respect, or perhaps see signs of deception in how your potential customer communicates — or maybe you just can’t agree on a price — these are all signs that it’s time to polish up your skills on how to say or write ‘no’ politely. Here are a some handy tips on how you can reject a client with class, and with your reputation intact.
The real tips on how to say no politely in business
Realistically, being comfortable wth how to say no to a potential client is something that becomes easier with time and practice — like a lot of things. If you are just getting started in freelancing and you want to learn how to reject a client properly, here are some tips that you can use to guide you.
Explain the reasons behind the rejection
When saying ‘no’, you’ll want to explain the reasons behind it. Whether they’re rate-related, timing-related or just a simple mismatch of focuses, make sure the customer understands the reason behind the rejection. This can help them with future searches, too.
Sweeten it with sugar
No one likes hearing ’no’, so pay extra attention to surround the negative part of the message with positivity. You don’t want to overdo it, of course, but make an effort to keep a positive and upbeat tone. For example, start it out by saying: “Thank you for your interest! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to help you out with this because…”. Even if you don’t feel positive, put on your game face and make sure your message stays positive.
Reroute the customer (if you can)
If you know that someone you know can help your customer, don’t be afraid to pass on their contact information to help them find the right professional for their needs. Only do this if you have someone you can refer them to, however. No one likes a wild goose chase!
Don’t assign blame
This is very tricky when dealing with a rejection based on the customer ignoring your instructions or guidelines, but very important. Don’t blame the customer for asking for something that you can’t offer. Likewise, don’t put the blame on yourself either. Keep things clear, and focus on the facts.
Be kind, always
Similar to the above, always keep your cool. Stay professional even if the other person isn’t, and avoid getting into an argument. Stick to the facts and wash your hands of the client knowing that you did the best job you could and stayed every part the professional.
Practice makes perfect
At the end of the day, the best thing that you can do when it comes to learning how to say ‘no’ politely is to get used to doing it. Just like anything else you do in freelancer life, it’s going to take you a few attempts to get it just right – especially if the client tries to attack or bait you, or is just difficult to work with. Remember – stay calm, professional, and be firm in your decision.
Definitely one of the finer parts of being a true professional, there are some freelancers that never get the hang of saying ‘no’, and get walked over all the time. Help your business grow in the right direction by learning how to recognize a bad situation and, more importantly, how to walk away from it.