After writing my article the “The Art of Saying No”, I met with one of our speakers for the FEW 2018 Conferences, Naomi Abbott, we were discussing that receiving a No and how you react is also important. Both of us have had situations where people have wanted us to participate in things we were not available for and when we said no wasn’t taken very well. If you are the recipient of a No, it is equally important to keep your composure as you still have a stakeholder relationship to protect.
When I was building my Executive Search business years ago, often No from potential clients was the common response. We are going to do it ourselves they often said. If I would have reacted by getting annoyed with them, I would have burnt very important bridges. Remember sometimes No is a cry for more information or they could just be meaning No/not right now.
Taking the No in a gracious way will go a long way in keeping the relationship, maintaining your professionalism and protecting your brand. Don’t get mad by taking your ball and bat home. Accept it and keep the door open. Here are some tips when you are the recipient of a No response:
- Thank you for your consideration, I appreciate your time and please let me know if you change your mind. Could we keep the door open for the future and would you mind if I follow up in a few months to see if anything has changed? (For example, this approach could be used in a situation where you have competed against someone else and lost the tender and want to keep the connection in case they are not happy with their first decision. Assuming you have answered all their questions and this was the final No).
- I totally understand and appreciate your consideration, let me know if things change. (For example, this simple acceptance of the No could be used when you have asked someone to participate in a project, volunteer work, or anything else where you are asking for participation).
As a side note and from a sales perspective, in the past whenever I received a no for business, I would say the above, however, I would always ask the client if they could shed some light on why we lost the tender i.e. price, presentation, etc so we knew what to improve on to give us a better idea in the future. Sometimes the No was as simple as they had a better relationship with someone else.
My view is that all relationships start out great. How many of your clients had a previous relationship before they started to work with you? If you burnt your bridge with your first attempt to win business, it will be very hard to revive. Not a good idea to say things like: Your loss, you will be sorry, we will take this to your competition, FINE, I can’t believe you didn’t go with us and then bag the competition or you don’t know what you are doing etc.
You get the idea. These statements will only damage your brand and you will ruin the relationship. Take the No professionally and in the long term you will win the Yes. Regards, Judith