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The Art of Saying "No"

The Art of Saying "No"


by Hugh Duffy

The Art of Saying "No"

The art of saying "no" is difficult for many people, particularly new business owners.

In due time, most business owners realize that saying "yes" too often usually results in lower fees and becoming a door mat for your clients.

Rather than getting into the habit of saying yes too often, step back and look at your business in a broader context and the implications of saying yes to each demand. Saying yes too often is like failing to train your dog. It's like having a child and never using discipline to teach them lessons in life and values. It's like dating someone and letting someone walk all over you. Don't do it…

The art of saying "no" extends well beyond fees and encompasses your entire business. Saying "no" to your clients and prospective clients covers everything from fees, which engagements you accept, timeliness of payment, work flow, how your employees are treated, to business practices. In order to develop a mutually satisfying relationship and become the "trusted" advisor for your clients, you must be willing to politely and respectfully say "no." You must be willing to walk away from business in order to develop a high quality practice.

With each new prospective client, strive to accomplish the following before saying yes.

  • Understand the prospects genuine wants and needs
  • Act like a consultant and guide them on how to solve their problems
  • Adopt a mindset of flexibility but be mindful of the boundaries
  • Broaden their perception of how you can help them (avoid a zero sum game)
  • Approach the situation like they need you more than you need them

The art form of saying "no" comes in after you draw a line in the sand and establish your boundary. At this point, the goal is to focus on their need, convey the value of your services, assure them that your firm is a great fit, and reiterate the corresponding benefit.

To improve the quality of your practice, learn how to use the art of saying no.

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Hugh Duffy, BYF CEO and Co-Founder

Hugh is the consummate marketing coach for accountants and takes pride in the impact that it has on their practice, and lives. Hugh has more than thirty years of marketing experience. Since 2003, he has been teaching accountants on how to improve their marketing and make more money from their accounting practice.