5 Ways to Say No (to the Wrong Clients)

Ilise Benun on your online marketing planMore CFC notes via Alison Harrison of Harrison Internal Communications. Yesterday was 5 Qualifying Questions to Ask. This time it’s, “5 Ways to Say No”

I’m convinced one of main problems creative freelancers have is saying “no” to the wrong clients before they can find the right one.

Not saying “no” (a.k.a. taking whatever comes along because you feel you have no choice) is a downward spiral because you’re so busy and exasperated by the wrong ones that you can’t believe others could be all that much better.

Believe me, they are. Those good clients who respect your work and value your services are out there. All you have to do is find them. But first you have to make space by nipping it in the bud and not saying yes in the first place.

Here are a few techniques to experiment with:

  1. No explanation needed – you can say “ I’d love to but it’s not possible”
  2. Target market conflict
  3. Scheduling conflict
  4. Goal conflict
  5. Make a referral – only if this is not a red flag client.

In a podcast, Alison and I talked about each of them and she elaborated on how they work. Listen to that here…

In the meantime, let us know which ones work best for you. Try them all!

2 thoughts on “5 Ways to Say No (to the Wrong Clients)

  1. Lee

    All of the above works if I’m brave enough to put them into action 🙂
    I’ve encountered a few bad clients who are disrespectful and unappreciative. Time to say NO to them and move on to better clients.

    1. Alison Harrison

      Lee, I so hear what you’re saying about being brave enough! I have to have the list in front of me (it’s on a post-it by the phone) so that I don’t ramble and chicken out.

      But I have to say, biting the bullet and saying “no” a few times has actually made me feel much more confident – it’s really helped me to focus on what I do want, rather than taking jobs because I’m scared of what might happen otherwise. And that seems to have set up a virtuous circle where I feel that I’m defining my positioning better and making conscious steps towards the business I want rather than drifting, which in turn makes me sound more confident when I’m talking to my right people – it’s working 🙂