How to Say No to Clients the Right Way

How to Say No to Clients the Right Way

For many freelancers, especially those just starting out, getting clients can be quite the challenge. When they do eventually land a client, freelancers usually try to hold on to them like their life depends on it (for some it just might). They try to go overboard to please them and make sure that everything is to their liking. 

Don’t get me wrong, making sure a client is happy is a good thing. It’s what we should all strive to do. However, there comes a time in the life of every freelancer when eventually, they will have to say that dreadful “no” word. We’re going to show you a few strategies you can use to say no to clients the right way.

Why You Should Turn Down Clients

We’ve covered in a previous blog post the three situations when turning down clients makes sense, but now it’s time to talk about the how. It’s one thing to know why you should turn down a client, but actually turning down clients is often easier said than done.

For some people, saying no can be very hard and quite a scary thing. The word “no” can seem like you’re letting someone down, hurting their feelings, or just being plain mean. It’s often thought that saying no to clients is basically committing freelancing suicide. Losing a potential client can mean a lost paycheck, as well as possible future paychecks down the line. 

However, there comes a time when saying no is the right thing to do. Examples of this include…

  • Being overworked.
  • Being underpaid for your work.
  • If you feel like what’s being asked is immoral or goes against your own ethics.
  • You just don’t have the time to do the work and do a good job.
  • You don’t have the skills to do what the client is asking.

These are just a few examples of why saying no can save you a lot of headaches, time, and money down the line. By not taking on projects that you don’t feel you should do, it actually makes time for other projects that you can make good money from instead.

How to Say No the Right Way

As with most things in life, there is a right way and a wrong way to say something. Obviously, when saying no to a client, you shouldn’t come off as mean and very blunt. Freelancing is a business, and in business building strong relationships is important. There are many ways you can turn down a client and still manage to keep a healthy relationship with them. Here are three methods you can use to say no to a client and still keep them happy.

  • Quote a higher price than you think the job is actually worth. This is a pretty well known method used among many business owners in order to tell the serious clients from those looking to get something for nothing. In some cases though this actually doesn’t work and they may actually be willing to pay that higher price. If that happens to you, well you might want to consider taking the job after-all.
  • Let the client know that you’d like to take the job, but that right now you’ve got your hands full with projects for other clients. By doing this, not only does it turn the client down softly, but it also gives you a chance to see if you can reschedule their project for a later date.
  • Inform that client that you just don’t have the time to work on the project, but refer them to a colleague that can work on it instead. This is often a really great approach as it lets them know that you’re not going to do what they are asking, however you’re recommending something that can. If you’re smart about it, you can even set up a deal with another freelancer or company to get a commission from all the jobs you refer, so you still make profits from it.

Saying no doesn’t just apply to potential clients. Oftentimes you may already be working with a client but want to turn down a request they are making. You can use these same techniques and strategies to let them down gently. The key is just being creative and honest.

It’s also a great idea to simply rehearse different lines you can give clients based upon the situation at hand. Have you ever had to turn down clients or give the infamous “no” to one?

What’s your strategy to letting clients down gently? Share them in the comments below!

Shaan Nicol

I help business owners increase profits by bringing their vision to life with a world-class website and gold-standard website support. Let’s connect!

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