Try these tips the next time you've got to let a customer down easy:

First, realize saying no is not always bad. Focus on the strength of your relationship wit the client, not on this one sale at this particular point in time. Remember, you're not necessarily doing what's best for your clients by always saying yes.

When you must say no, tell your client why, and be sure to offer alternatives. If, for example, you can't meet the requested deadline, say when you could get it done. If that's not acceptable, refer the client to someone who can get it done on time.

It's important your employees, if you have any, understand that it's better to turn down business than complete a mediocre job. If you're honest with your clients, most will understand your temporary refusal, and you'll preserve your relationship.

Excerpted fromGet Smart: 365 Tips To Boost Your Entrepreneurial IQ