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Why I Never Say ‘No’ to Our Clients

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Why I Never Say ‘No’ to Our Clients

So, that sounds a bit weird, right? Never say ‘no’? Does that mean I always say ‘yes’? Of course not. That would be a great way to go out of business. What I mean is that I never actually use the word ‘no’, because it shuts down any further opportunities I may have to help the person I am talking to.

There are alternatives to ‘no’

We’ve always heard you must learn how to say ‘no’ to run a successful business. And I agree with that, in principle. You simply can’t run a successful business if you let other people dictate how you do it, which means at some point saying … well, not yes.

Perhaps I can best explain with a couple of examples:

Q: ‘I only want you to do the cover for my book. Can you help me?’
A: ‘As we specialise in self-publishing packages we won’t be able to help you with only your cover, but I can explain the options for a larger package or give you the details of some designers who may be able to help you.’

Q: ‘Michael, if we start my project next week, can I have books delivered within two months?’
A: ‘Actually our typical turnaround time is three months, which is the minimum time it takes to produce a high-quality book. Would three months work for you?’

See, not a ‘no’ anywhere.

If somebody leaves a conversation with me no better off than when they started, what was the point of talking to me? I consider this to be a fundamental principle of the way I run my business. With any interaction I have with a client or potential client, I make sure they don’t go away empty handed. If you can’t provide a product or service to a person making an enquiry, this can be as simple as providing contact details of somebody who can. Or providing some small tip that will help them solve their problem. Or hearing them out and raising an issue they hadn’t yet considered. You can provide immense value to somebody with just a few minutes of your time.

But why go the extra effort if you can’t help them? Because every interaction you have with anybody, whether they become a client or not, reflects on your business. A person you don’t sign up can still be a fan of your business, and talk about how helpful you were to others, even if it was just a five-minute phone call.

And you never know – if you’re helpful now they might turn into a client later. I had an author a few months ago who called up and said he wanted to do an eBook only. I explained to him why we don’t do this (without using the word ‘no’), and gave him some tips for setting himself up on Amazon. I spoke to him for about 20 minutes. He thanked me for my time and advice and hung up. At that point I never expected to hear from him again.

About five or six weeks later he called up again. He’d decided he was also going to do a print version, and as we’d been so helpful the first time around he wanted us to help him. So, as I write this, we’re arranging his printing for him. I signed up a $4000 project on the back of a 20-minute phone call. Not bad.

Would this have happened if I’d simply said, ‘No, sorry we don’t do that’, when he first called? No, it wouldn’t have. The assistance I happily gave him without any expectation he’d become a client made a big impression, and when he later decided he needed more help he didn’t think about going elsewhere.

Work hard to remove the word ‘no’ from your vocabulary with your clients or potential clients. It doesn’t mean always saying yes, but it does mean always giving them value.

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