Saying No to a Sale

Have you ever said “No” to a sale? Here’s what I mean…have you ever engaged in a presale conversation, the prospect is ready to proceed but your spidey senses told you this is a bad idea? What did you do about it? Did you turn down the prospect?

In the past, I’ve written some pretty raw blogs about my own mistakes and the painful lessons I’ve learned when it comes to my failure to listen to my intuition or red flags that came up instead giving way to my people-pleasing tendencies. Yet in the last several weeks, I have had some insightful conversations that gave that familiar tingle that says this doesn’t feel right. Instead of saying yes to the sale and taking the chance, I stood up for my values and said, “No, this is not a fit.” The end results were surprising.


To cut a long story short, I received a referral from a beloved and respected client. There were some bumps initially to get our first meeting set up, but I chalked it up to just some bumpy communication. Our initial sales conversation went well, and the attendees were excited and indicated they would share this with the business owner. After a few days, I received a request for a second sales call. I obliged by sharing my meeting link so they could find a time to schedule one more call, but rather than get a single booking, I started getting individual bookings. Despite my efforts to communicate, it was clear there was a high level of expectation of me, but a low level of communication and organization on their part. This and the nature of our program left me feeling like this would be the start of a challenging relationship.

I thought a lot about how to respond to this situation. While I knew our solution would be a good one for their business goals, the culture clash was something that would likely not serve either of us well. I opted to communicate this with the business owner as I said “No” and braced for impact. To my surprise, she welcomed my feedback and was very happy to hear my thoughts and how I felt it impacted both parties. The outcome was a growing conversation for both of us.

Knowing Your Ideal Client

I teach and mentor our Automation on a Mission community members about getting clear on who your ideal client is. Some embrace the concept, others dip their toe and hope for the best. Yet going through a comprehensive ideal client exercise can help you not only understand who you want to be working with but also help you identify who is NOT your ideal client. For example, at Confluence Business Solutions, we love working with coaches and healers, predominantly because they believe in the power of investing in themselves and their business and are coachable. On the other side, I can recognize prospective clients that don’t fit into our customer persona and with greater confidence navigate those decisions as well.

As our visibility increases and the power of the work we do with women entrepreneurs grows, I know we will not be right for everyone. I am seeing the empowerment that has come from that earned wisdom over time. I’m not operating out of a place of scarcity or a need to make everyone happy. I’m operating from a place of truly creating win/win solutions for everyone involved.

How to Say No

Equally important is knowing HOW to navigate the conversation when it’s time to decline a prospective client. Here are a few tips I have found helpful in calming my own nerves and proceeding with confidence:

Be Honest, yet Tactful: Start by expressing gratitude for their interest in your services. Then, without being overly specific or critical, explain that after careful consideration, you believe a different solution or provider might be a better fit for their needs. Honesty is appreciated, but it’s essential to deliver your message without causing offense.

Offer Alternatives: If possible, recommend other providers or solutions that might be a better fit for their specific needs. This shows that you genuinely care about their success, even if you won’t be directly involved. It can also help to soften the blow and provide them with a helpful next step.

Keep the Door Open for Future Opportunities: Just because they’re not the right client now doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. Let them know that circumstances and offerings change, and you’d be open to revisiting the conversation down the line. This leaves the relationship on a positive note and keeps potential future opportunities alive.

Listen Actively: Give them a chance to respond and express their feelings. Listen actively without interrupting, and validate their emotions. This can go a long way in preserving the relationship and ensuring they feel heard and respected.

Reiterate Your Appreciation: End the conversation by reiterating your gratitude for their interest and the opportunity to discuss potential collaboration. This reinforces your professionalism and leaves the conversation on a positive note.

Final Thoughts

If today’s post resonates with even one person, I’ll consider it a success! If you’re struggling with how to have hard conversations with your prospects and clients and want support in how to establish your ideal client, I’d love to chat! Grab a free 30-minute spot on my calendar today!


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