How To Say NO To A Client Or Prospect, The Right Way

I was recently looking for someone to manage my Pinterest account and stumbled across a potential suitor over on Instagram. After sliding into @itsemilywoolnough‘s DMs, respectfully, I was taught a valuable lesson on how to say no to a client or prospect.

The best way to say NO to a client is to be honest with them and politely explain that you only work with people that match the profile of your ideal client avatar, which they do not (or no longer do). You should also leave things on a positive note by wishing them well in their business endeavours.

This is how Emily turned me down and I have to say, I was so impressed with her response that I’m glad she rejected me.

The way that she handled the situation showed me that whoever she does decide to work with is in very capable hands.

Funny thing is, although I didn’t get the chance to work with Emily personally, I would have no issue recommending her services to somebody else. In fact, I already have!

How to say no to a client or prospect: Emily Woolnough politely turning me down in the DMs

already working with the client?

Not to worry, as I’ve been in this situation too.

I was actually working with one of the biggest names in Yoga not too long ago. Together, we were creating a membership program that would easily earn over 6-7 figures a year.

And I was set to earn a big chunk of that.

The problem was, I gradually started taking on tasks that were outside of the original scope of the project.

Despite early enthusiasm, every phone call, team meeting, whatsapp message and email was slowly killing off my brain cells one by one.

Not least because I didn’t really care for yoga.

Of course, all of this was my fault.

I allowed this to happen and it was up to me to fix it.

For ages I was Google-ing stuff like “how to let go of a client” and “how to say no to a client” but I struggled to find a decent answer.

Eventually, I decided that enough was enough and despite it making no financial sense for me to do so, I was just honest with the client and told him that…

“I’ve been doing some soul-searching of late and I’ve come to the regretful conclusion that I just don’t think that I’m the right fit for this project anymore. Despite the amount of time, effort and expertise that I’ve put into it, I just don’t have the burning desire that I once did. If you wanted to have a call during the week to discuss things then do let me know”

Mike Walters

We then scheduled a phone call and actually had a great talk.

All that resentment that had been building up went right out the window, and we were able to vocalize our mutual respect for each other.

Not only did he understand why I was resigning but he even had the decency to leave me an amazing video testimonial too.

We’re actually in the process of negotating a new work proposal, which wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t have handled the situation as I did.

That’s the power of being honest with your clients – and yourself.

So if you’re wondering how to say no to a client and go your separate ways without the aggro, just be honest with them and let them know that you’re just no longer the right fit.

They’ll either understand or they’ll get s****y. Regardless, you’ll have made the right choice.

When should you say no to a client?

In short, you should always turn down a client if it’s going to negatively effect your mental health.

If you’re already working with the client, you’ll want to let them know as soon as possible so that they can make suitable arrangements, i.e. replacing you.

As for prospective clients, if they don’t match the profile of your ideal client avatar then you should turn them down right away, even if the money is tempting.

If you work with these types of clients, you risk doing a half-assed job, resenting the work and falling out with the client.

For those that don’t know, an ideal client avatar is a clear and detailed description of what your perfect client is like.

This includes exact details on their age, gender, location, struggles, goals, vocabulary, whereabouts, idols, interests, likes, dislikes and more.

It’s a very detailed process but it’s one that I encourage every business owner to go through before they do any form of marketing.

You risk wasting a lot of time, energy and money otherwise.

Above all though, you’d definitely want to say no to a potential client if they’re showing you any red flags.

Identify these red flags early or risk working with a nightmare client from hell.

Wondering how to say no to a client or prospect without being rude? Not to worry, as I’ve been on both sides of the coin and share two great examples of a rejection message that I’ve sent to a client and a rejection I’ve received as a prospective client. client relationships // customer journey // client stuff // dream client // ideal clients #idealclients #dreamclient #clientstuff
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Saying no to a client or prospect doesn’t have to be a bad experience. If anything, you’re doing them a favour by not leading them on and delivering an underwhelming result.

When you say no to a client, you’re saying yes to the opportunity of working with a client that you’re genuinely excited to work with.

So if you’re wondering how to say no to a client or prospect, just know that being honest with them is usually the answer.

You’re just not the right fit for them – and that’s fine!

Do you have any feedback or questions about how to say no to a client or prospect? Let me know in the comments below!

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