Saying “no” to business sales

Saying “no” to business sales is probably one of the hardest things to do.

When you are setting up and building a business, you feel that if you say “no” to an opportunity or lead, no matter how good or bad it might be, then the world will end and your business will implode.

However, this isn’t the case. I reckon that the more times you say “no” to the right things at the right times early on in the business, the better.

Learning when to say no is the most important thing. Of course, you aren’t going to say “no” to a qualified opportunity or lead from an awesome client that you have a relationship with.

Size does matter here though. The larger the company doesn’t mean the project is going to be any better from a profit, revenue or staff productivity viewpoint. Sometimes the smaller companies give you less run around in the sales process, however this isn’t always the case.

So how do you say no?

A good way to say no is to have an honest reponse ready to go. If you cannot think off the cuff to say “no” to something, then ask that you get back to the contact and explain your position by a courteous email or on the phone.

Honesty is often the best policy here. And in the long run people will respect you more. In some cases, I have said no to a project and then actually worked with the client or company on a different one that was more suited to my business.

There isn’t an easy way to say “no” to opportunities, but just remember there is always another lead around the corner.



  1. Good article Llew, saying no is tricky, I do it a few times a year infact, I’d generally rather say no than say yes and just balls up all my clients and my staff but each person reacts differently, some times the act of saying no allows time to reconsider and reapproach and sometimes they take their toys and go play elsewhere 🙂

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