How to say No to a client

“The customer is always right” is one of the phrases that you must have heard a thousand times. However, it is not entirely true.

While working as a Virtual Assistant (or any other type of project) you meet different customers, among whom there are some who respect your work, but there are others who want to take advantage in the negotiation, regardless of ethics or professionalism without greater respect for what you do.

We are in the era of ‘if you don’t do it I will find hundreds that will’, and lack of respect for the service you offer is becoming a trend.

So … When should we say no to a client or prospect?  

  • When they ask for repeated discounts: Normally discounts are a commonplace in the negotiations, but if a benefit is conferred you must request a benefit back. Thus, the price reduction is for a reason and not just because the customer has requested.
  • When they request some work for something you’re not really good.
  • When they ask information about their competitors: remember that ethics is essential in business. Providing confidential information about another client is not only illegal but destroys trust and relationships. A client that requests information from his competitors is simply not the type of company you want to work with.
  • When you ask for deadlines that you know you will not keep. Many customers order works for “yesterday,” but it is very important that you leave very clear that although the client sees things easy and think you owe your exclusive dedication to him, you have other clients, also wishing his projects to be out in a timely manner.
  • When he’s disrespectful to us or any of our employees: Being a customer does not give him the right to treat people unkindly. In any business relationship mutual respect should prevail, otherwise it will be very difficult to sustain in the long run.
  • When you know for sure that the prospect is a potential problem. If, after investigating the potential client you know he has been a problem for other people … run away from him!
  • When he threatens us to work with competition. . If your client threatens to go to the competition, then he is not the type of client with whom you want to do business. Such customers may become unpredictable. To grow the business you need loyal customers who appreciate what you do for them.
  • When you are too busy to take a new client. If you are continually working on is a good sign that your work is highly valued, you have to know to tell a customer that you currently cannot span more projects, but your will be pleased to work with him in the future.
  • When the client asks you to do something that you ethically or morally do not agree. You must make that perfectly clear and refuse to do it if you think it is necessary.
  • When the client does not know what he wants. Never accept a job until you are sure that the customer knows what he wants. It is very common to find clients that say “but if I wanted the work in this o other way” and in the end you’re the one to blame for the customer. Tie all the ends of the project from start to finish and get customer approval before acceptance.

Convincing a client that is wrong is a delicate matter that requires large doses of diplomacy. To be able to say no to a customer and not die in the attempt you must be tactful, have intuition, knowledge, confidence, conviction, persuasiveness and strength.

How to say no to a client?

  1. Do not use the words “no” and “but.” The customer may not like a negative on our part. We must develop a strategy to be the customer who decides to turn back. For example, if the client says, “the price is too high”, you should not reply, “but the quality is unbeatable.” It is more effective to answer, “yes, it is true that our price is higher. ‘But’ what you get for that price is more higher quality and better service”
  2. Give him alternatives. It may also happen that the customer asks for a service you think does not fit his needs. “This usually happens when the client has consulted and request quotes from other suppliers and they have advised him in what we consider a wrong direction. In this case, we must offer a more accurate alternative to their interests”
  3. Redirect them to other providers. Another possibility is that a client asks us to consider a job we cannot assume, either because we don’t have the knowledge or do not have enough time. We me must always tell him that we appreciate his offer but at the moment we cannot accept the job, but we can recommend a colleague who can do it.
  4. As you will have to also say “no” when they do not want to pay the money your work really worth. It is not convenient to say “I do not know how to do a good job with such a tight budget, and surely you will not be happy with the results. But I appreciate the opportunity. “It would be better to say “It’s understandable. There are also people who charge a lot more than I for the same work. I’m sure you’ll find another Virtual Assistant that will fit your budget, or even less. Anyway I hope we can work together in the future “

I know it’s not easy to say no to certain customers in these times. The reality is that most people are not able to say no all the time it would take. However, note that business is done better and better results are obtained when the company can put limits.

Have you ever had to say no to a customer? How did you solve it?




Alicia Diaz
ALD Group – Virtual Assistance

Photo: cheerfulmonk