How (and why) to say no to prospective business


Sorry about jolting you with that headline. Just thinking of saying "no" to prospective business causes the hair to stand up on the necks of most business owners and salespeople.

Something like, "Why in the world would we say no to anyone who wants to buy what we have for sale?!?" probably popped into your brain.

That is exactly the question you should be considering.

Here are a couple of answers - if they aren't on target, I'm sure you can add some that are. Saying no to business that isn't a simultaneous win for the client and you does the following:

  1. Preserves and can even heighten your reputation for being someone who does the right thing for the client (and yourself)
  2. Frees up the energy you're likely to waste dealing with a difficult and/or unhappy client
  3. Enables others to know you and refer the right kind of business/projects/clients to you in the future
  4. Strengthens your own internal picture of the value of your work

I could list the consequences of settling for less - even if it's just this one time, and I promise I'll never do it again, honest - yet I think you know them already.

One of our primary metrics of success at Trebuchet Group is when we are turning away as much business as we are taking on. Essentially, we know our marketing and sales system is working when we are saying no as often as we are saying yes. Here's how we do it:

  1. Be selective - We know our ideal client, the situations in which we can help, and where we know we can help them get to. If clients aren't willing to collaborate and work on their business and themselves, we are completely transparent and tell them "We're very sorry - unfortunately what we have to offer will probably not meet your needs." And then, if we can, we refer them to someone who we believe can help.
  2. Listen to a lot of people - We tend to err on the side of attending too many events where we get to connect with others. A really successful, spontaneous conversation for us ends both with a mutual desire to sit down and talk more specifically at a later date, and with the other person saying, "Gosh, I feel like you understand where I am, and yet I really didn't get a chance to find out more than the basics about your business." People want to be heard, and when we listen with integrity, we enable both of us to be able to say, "Yes!"
  3. Be willing to say no - This is the hardest part: trusting in the abundance of the Universe, trusting that there are more people and businesses that have a greater possibility of true win-win situations, trusting that by saying no you become more attractive to those very situations you need.

By saying no to opportunites that trigger those little flashing warning lights, you can enable your own greatness.

Chris Hutchinson, CEO

Chris Hutchinson, CEO

Are you ready and willing?

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Chris Hutchinson

As CEO of Trebuchet Group, Chris Hutchinson thrives working with clients and his team to improve organizational clarity, teamwork, and leadership impact.

After years of building Legos® and tree houses around the world, Chris earned his Mechanical Engineering degree and followed that with an MBA. His experiences in the military and the business world taught him great leadership can be learned, and everyone is in some way a leader.

Clients and peers describe him as an inspirational catalyst for positive change. He is the author of Ripple - A Field Manual for Leadership That Works.

Chris and his wife live, garden, and bike in Fort Collins, Colorado, and have four children. He has an unrequited love affair with brownies.