How to Say 'NO' to Clients

You need to be 100 per cent sure if you're saying no to your client as there is no reversal to it

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By Komal Nathani


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Saying NO to a client could be difficult and intimidating both at the same time for someone who is not used to it.

For entrepreneurs, fear of losing a client always remains an area of concern. Especially when the client is one with whom the entrepreneur has to indulge in business again. But saying no is an an art that every businessmen should master to remain relevant in business.

Entrepreneur India talked to a group of like-minded entrepreneurs to know how this issue should be dealt with. Some findings on what should be kept in mind before or after saying NO to your client.

Give them an Alternative

At times, situation comes when you have to deny a client who has been working with you consistently over the years. And saying no to the proposal could harm your relationship with them.

Offering another option while saying no could help in that situation. Gitanjali Maini, Founder and Director of Gallery G, believes the best way to deal with the situation is to refer them to others or suggest something viable for their deal. "This at least can give an assurance that you tried at your best to help them," says Maini.

Be Sure That You Have to Say NO

You need to be 100 per cent sure if you're saying no to your client as there is no reversal to it. It takes a lot to take clients onboard to work in the best interest of the company. The laundry franchising company, UClean's Arunabh Sinha shared one of his business experiences with his franchisee clients.

"Each franchise relationship is at least a 5-year commitment from both sides. It is very difficult to say no to the clients with whom you're in good terms," says Sinha who suggest the best way is to clearly say No but be prepared for its consequences as well.

Be Polite and State the Clear Objective

In business, every action needs to have a rationale and purpose as long as you're able to have a convincing and far reaching answer that your client can buy.

Brand Consultant Sheela Panicker thinks stating clear objective to your client for the denial on the deal works well. "Keeping things clear and transparent between you and your clients always is the best in long-term working," says Panicker.

Be Empathetic

Listening to the client at first should be a priority of an entrepreneur.

Senior VP of Technology Virender Jeet suggests making key points when your client is talking to you. "It's a good practice that every businessman should adopt and it also provides a gesture that you're interested in his/her conversation."

His tip is - let the client know that you have understood what he wants by summarizing key points discussed with him. Always find a positive way of communicating with the client if your answer is a "No'.

Not only does this help in retaining the discussion but also ends it on a positive note that keeps both the sides happy.

He also suggests offering the client to give his/her opinion first but be prepared to provide yours. Make sure the opinion given to the client subtly hints at his or her interest and be honest in explaining "why' so."

Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!

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