How to Say No to Clients Without Losing Them

Adapted from an article by Manish Bhalla

Saying ‘NO’ is an art! Most of the times it denotes something negative but if said at the right time and in the right manner, a NO can contribute positively towards the growth of your company and you! The mind gets perplexed when it comes to saying NO to a customer whom you want to do business with. But sometimes a NO is required to save a possible future damage to your professional relationship.

Here are a few things to be kept in mind while saying ‘NO’ to a prospective client or an existing one asking for a discount yet keeping him happy and convinced about hiring your services –

1. Be empathetic – Being empathetic is the key to convince the customer that the NO is being said in their favor. If you put yourselves in the customer’s shoes and try to understand his thoughts and feelings about a situation, you would be able to justify the NO to yourself as well as to the customer, who is being denied the discount.

2. Be sure of when to tell a customer NO– You have to define your own yardsticks to measure whether a NO would put your company behind or ahead from where it stands today. Be clear on what your boundaries are pertaining to customer service. You can tell a customer NO when you know that the discount is not being offered to any other customer as well, hence, you follow a fair practice. You can also tell a NO when the perk being asked for is against your company policy.

3. The sooner the better –Instead of procrastinating the process of saying NO, do it quickly and honestly. Keeping the customers waiting for a decision on their request would only fluster them. But if it is required at all to evaluate the issue, you should try to offer an alternative solution and convey the final decision soon. The customers will appreciate that.

4. Stay positive- When it comes to iterating a negative thing, we tend to emit similar emotions. But if you convey the NO in a positive way, it leaves the doors open for the customers to come back to you in future.

End the conversation on a positive note and make the customer feel good about the NO so they may get back to you when they find you affable.

5. Offer the next best solution – If not the best, then offer the next best solution to the customers. They may get upset at first but there’s a possibility that they settle in for the alternative solution being offered to them. All you need to do is emphasize its benefits to the customers and they are likely to be convinced.

6. Be clear and transparent – Don’t give a vague explanation.The clearer and more transparent you remain in your explanation of saying NO to the customers the better it is. Explain the cause of being unable to process their request at that point of time very lucidly and honestly; it pays.

7. Create a long lasting impression – Be polite and sincere. The customers always look for an exhilarating experience from the service provider. If you maintain a mannerly stance right from the beginning till the end, even if you have to decline a request, they would still retain the impression and the experience that they have had with you!

8. Stay mindful – Keeping in mind the thoughts of your customers and the impact that your decision might have on them can make things easier for you to portray. Being mindful and aware of what your words might sound like to the receiver will help you mould them in an acceptable manner.

9. Don’t lose your graciousness – Be elegant in your tone and mannerism while saying NO and never shout at the clients even if they get irate. Maintaining your calm will always help you cool down the customers as well.

Consumers like being treated with care even if sometimes we are not able to give them what they have requested for.

10. Build relationship and not cut corners –  Investing into a relationship will go a long way than just cutting corners at once. Gain confidence of the customers and build trust by soliciting their feedback and thanking them for their time.

If you show that your support will continue through this established relationship, the customers are likely to contact you when they think of such a project again.

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