Have you ever been so frustrated with a prospective client, or insulted by a potential customer, and felt helpless to do or say anything because you didn’t want to lose a sale? Of course you have! As the proprietor of your own business, you face this scenario probably with one out of every ten new customers per week. It gets us to a point where we feel like closing the doors to our business and going back to our old nine-to-five cubicle.
If this is you, then I have bad news for you: the problem isn’t with the prospect, it’s with you! When you made the commitment to be your own boss, you forgot to be in charge of everything!
The good news is that you have control, not only over the people that work for you, but also over the people that may choose to do business with you. Below are some scenarios where its perfectly OK to say “no” to a customer.
The “Rude with a ‘tude” person: Probably the most common, these are the people that have a negative presence towards you before you ever had a chance to introduce yourself to them. Some even try to insult your intelligence. Unfortunately, the majority of these people believe that this type of personality is normal and acceptable behavior. This does not mean that you have to put up with it!
When they give you an attitude, ask them “was there something I have done to upset you?”. Most likely they will reply with “no”, most will change their tone thereafter. For those who persist, simply say “I’m sorry but I do not think I (or my products) can be of service to you” and walk away. If they try to insult your intelligence, remind them that they came to you, and you never persuaded them to seek you or your services in the first place.
The “Alchemist” (want’s gold for the price of lead): As a business owner, I am sure you spent a great deal of time developing your pricing based on costs, value, profit, etc. Why should you have to undo all that hard work for a “cheapo” customer?
Never let a customer control your pricing! If they want it for cheaper, they should find a business that has what they want for less. Those who sell it for less most likely do not provide the value-added service that you offer, or they sell an inferior version of your product and therefore are not considered real competition. By reducing your prices to satisfy a customer you are degrading your own business, making those with the inferior products and services become your competition.
The “I’ll call you back” person: This pertains more towards a services business. Nothing is more aggravating and a complete waste of time than a prospect that can never give you a straight answer regarding whether or not they want to do business with you. They constantly elude you, never answer calls or respond to emails, and when you do get in contact with them, they appear so frantically busy to give you five minutes of their time to go over any details and make a solid decision.
If they don’t have the time for you, then you shouldn’t waste your time with them! Just explain to them that in order for a service to be done completely and correctly, an open line of communication is important. Your time is money, and should be spent on clients that will bring money to you.
The “I’m not signing anything” person: This also pertains more towards a services business. If you provide a service, you should have contractual agreements with your clients. If you don’t, then don’t cry “why me?” when you get screwed over or sued by a client.
Contracts protect you, as well as protect your clients from you taking their money and running. If they say “I don’t sign contracts”, reply with “then how do you explain your cellphone?”. Some will even say something like “I can hire a student for less money”, and if so, then ask “why did you contact me then?”. The important thing here is: NEVER BEGIN A SERVICE WITHOUT A CONTRACT! Especially with someone who is adamant about signing one, theres something fishy about that!
You’ve put a lot of effort into your business and you have the right to cater to those who respect you and your business. When faced with an unfavorable prospect, simply say “no” and let them go elsewhere. Don’t fear them speaking negatively about you to others either, they were most likely going to do that whether they were a client or not. It’s better that they are not, so that the reviews about you and your business are from your actual, happy and loyal customers.