the sky floor

A Powerful Technique: How to Say Yes, When the Answer is No

September 22, 2022

Recently a client was declaring how much they love working with us, which is a compliment I don’t take for granted. I know they have been in other agency relationships that were not as positive. Part of their reaction to The Sky Floor is the juxtaposition of the two different experiences. Their last agency relationship was a constant string of “nos.” 

We have run across this before, service businesses that seem to start every request with no. It also makes sense; they feel they are drawing boundaries, sticking to contracts, and keeping their business sharp and honest. At some point, your client will grow weary of hearing negativity. They will start to view your partnership as a closed door instead of endless opportunity. Once that happens, good luck convincing them of your value or keeping the relationship alive. 

Nevertheless, avoiding a “no” will not serve either party in the long run. What can you do?

I firmly believe in working toward a yes, even when the reality is a no. It is about an attitude shift – an extension of being helpful vs. helpless. Will you offer your client something that aids them, even if you will not provide it and you aren’t obligated to do so? 

What does this look like?

  • The client asks for help with social media, but you don’t touch social; instead of just saying no, you refer them to someone who can help. 
  • The client requests that you post something manually over the weekend, and they don’t pay enough for that request; instead of just saying no, you give them a tutorial on making the post themselves. 
  • The client asks for another round of revisions even after you’ve given unstated extras; instead of just saying no, you let them know they only have a fixed amount of additional edits. 

You get the idea. The idea is to communicate the boundary while offering a solution. There will be a time when a definitive no is required, but consider it a last resort – your clients and potential business will benefit! 

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Start with yes, even when the answer needs to be no. The shift in approach will equal happier clients and better opportunities.