Learning how to say “no” to clients

Do you ever say “no” to clients? Or does “yes” blurt from your mouth before you have time to think?

On the CFC LinkedIn Group, there is an intense discussion about How to Manage Your Clients Expectations’that was inspired by Luke Mysse’s session at CFC, “Who’s the Boss.”  One of the main themes in the discussion is that the best working relationships come from being open and up-front with clients…

But are we being upfront when we say “yes” to everything a client wants? Are we keeping their expectations realistic? Let’s take a look at how constantly saying “yes” can have a negative impact on business.

In his post, “When Do You Say No to Clients?” on Freelance Switch, Jason Finnerty says:

As a new freelancer, I am still loathe to say that I cannot complete a clients request.  My answer right now is “Yes!” – regardless of what they need.  Requests like “Can you do websites?” or “Can you create a 10 page, long copy sales letter about the efficacy of acai on middle aged men in Ohio?” gets the same response from me – “Yes!”

If it’s something I can do, I do it.  If it’s something I can learn, I try and find a way to learn it on my time.  I don’t think it’s fair to learn on the client’s dime.  If it’s something that I can’t do myself, and can’t/won/t/shouldn’t learn how to do it, I will find a provider who can provide the quality I require.
I know this isn’t an ideal business model, but I am confident that there are many readers that find themselves in this situation.

Are you comfortable and secure enough to tell your client no, or have you taken the N-word out of your freelance vocabulary?

What have you learned from saying, “yes,” when you should have said, “no”?