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N is for negative.

From the day I started my design business, over a decade ago, it was incumbent upon me to bring in new clients and create opportunities. I still hit the pavement each and every day – researching new leads, making phone calls, sending emails and schmoozing new clients.

One might think the worst thing that can happen after a pitch is being told the word “no”. They’re wrong.

In reality, “no” can be one of the better responses you get from a prospective client (aside from the obvious “yes”). “No” is honest, conclusive and it frees your schedule to pursue other opportunities.

The most frustrating part of sales can be the prospective client who can’t seem to muster the word “no,” but in one way or another keeps you coming back to the table via emails, phone calls or actual meetings. You suspect the “no”, but it’s not actually there because it was never said. You feel it and eventually you have to move on, but after a prolonged process.

While it would be flattering to think these prospects are taking the time to “soak-in” all of the amazing services my team of skilled designers and developers has to offer… More likely than not I suspect these prospects are simply trying to be kind and/or are afraid to say “no.”

This is where the fallacy lies: by avoiding the word “no” these individuals aren’t being kind or saving face, they’re just avoiding termination of the communication and thus prolonging the inevitable – that we will not work together. And while they may see this as the kind or the easy way out, this choice is detrimental to both parties.

In the face of this alternative, the act of saying “no” is beneficial not only to me, but to them as well. It saves us both a bit of the most valuable and least-renewable commodity we have access to: time.

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