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How to say NO without actually saying NO to your client

Bo Pokštefl
Written by
Bo Pokštefl

Who likes to be wrong? Raise your hand. I thought so. We all think we are right and you know the old saying: the customer is always right. Your client knows their business but you know your one too. You know what is going to work, but how to say no to your enthusiastic client? How can you look at those eyes full of hope and say a cruel: NO.

If you still struggle in these hard times, read further. Because you are about to get some helpful tips.

Fake it till you make

Well, let’s not call it being fake. Let’s call it being sensitive. Diplomacy is a skill you can always use in your life. Communication is not just the key to a good marriage, but also in each relationship you have in your life. Including the one with your clients. Working as an account manager or social media brand manager, you need to find your own way to talk to them. Listen. Then agree. Point out the ideas you love. After that, they will be much more open to hearing your ideas. Another solution is to talk face to face so the client won’t feel like you are embarrassing them in front of their colleagues. Joke, joke a lot. Laughter helps in every situation and let’s face it, people like funny and relaxed people. Don’t take life too seriously 🙂

You’ve got mail

As I said earlier if you have the option to talk to your client’s face to face, do it. But obviously, that’s not always possible, so rather than using an email maybe try to find some easier way like Slack or Campfire. It’s quick, very trendy now and easy to use. Also, you don’t have to search forever in your emails to find something. It allows you to create groups or categories, organised by campaigns. It might help your communication be much more effective.

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Numbers are your backup

If your clients are wondering why you are always posting in the evenings when they ask you to do it in the morning, use numbers. The evidence is always the best way how to show them actual results, without upsetting them or just spending ages trying to explain things. Today there are lots of analytics tools out there for you to choose from. How else are you going to measure your performance anyway? Your strategy needs to be based on something.

Fearless feedback

Apple knew it a long time ago that nice feedback prevents you from realizing you basically have been told off. There are many ways how to criticize something or to say your opinion. But this is not a wrestling match about who is going to win. You always should think about the best way how both sides can be happy. And the only way is to be understanding but not a pushover, being supportive but with opinions and being able to find the best way in the middle. Don’t be scared, to be honest, it might help both businesses in the future. The right criticism never hurt anyone, only helps.

Make them always feel they have an option

Nobody likes to be put in a corner. And probably there is never just one right answer or solution. Even the good ideas in your head sound great until you say them out loud. So write down more options that could work and give them to your client while refusing their first option. That way they won’t feel they have no option and actually feel they can still participate in the process.

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There is always a way how to sort out everything, you just need to find the right way which works for you. Both sides want to be good in their area and together you can do it.

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