Many of us fear saying “No” to a potential customer…

…yet it can be one of the most effective tools for building rapport.

When you’re approached by someone interested in your offerings how do you react?  Do you go into your sales mode?  Do you get a queasy feeling in your gut and a nagging voice in your head saying “Don’t blow it!”  Or do you begin listening to see whether this prospect is a good fit for your business?

Unfortunately too many of us experience the fear I just described and we begin selling to people who aren’t a good fit for what we’re offering.  How can you avoid this mistake?

  1. Remember that your greatest profit margins come from your ideal customers.
  2. Whenever you stray from that path it adds dramatically to your infrastructure costs.
  3. You risk your reputation by selling something to someone whose needs would better be served elsewhere.

These are compelling reasons for saying “No” to prospects who didn’t fit your ideal-customer profile.  How can you say “No” and enhance your reputation in the marketplace?  Simply say to the prospect “We’re not the right solution for you.  You’re looking for … and we provide ….  Here’s the name of someone who will meet your needs.”

It’s counter-intuitive, but you will create a lasting memory with this prospect as someone of incredible integrity who genuinely cares about him/her.  This memory will create additional referrals down the road as the individual to whom you said “No” relates the story of your ethical business practices.

The key lies in the language I provided above – “We’re not the right solution for you.”  This language removes all the judgment that could so easily creep into the conversation.  By saying that “we’re not right for you,” you acknowledge the validity of the buyer’s choice without denigrating it.  It’s you who is not the good fit, not them.  The final step of referring them to a better fit seals their perception of you as an incredibly ethical and caring business person.

Buyers want this kind of integrity and concern for their welfare and they’ll pay premium prices to get it.  It’s another way to assure that you’re getting compensated well for the value you provide.