As a salesman, there is a massive temptation for me to be a yes-man but with experience, I am getting better and better at saying no. And sometimes saying no will eventually lead to a yes. A big yes.
It is really hard for me as I often want to be involved with everything, all of the time. I get FOMO at the highest level. Especially when I feel as though I might be helpful or at minimum, it might be fun. I enjoy being all in but that isn’t always the best for me, or the client.
Early in my career, I said yes to everything, and if you’re new to the business, I recommend you still do that. It was only in saying yes over and over that I gained the experience and knowledge to know when to say no. I welcomed every opportunity at the beginning of my sales career and I learned from all of it. It gave me experience and experience matters. It provides wisdom and gray hair. I’m always seeking one and gaining both.
Experience and wisdom are what really matters. It’s what people pay for. They pay to learn from those of us who have gone before them and learned it the hard way. They pay to avoid the mistakes that have already been made or the knowledge to handle the issues that may arise.
By saying yes, I can now strategically and tactfully say no to opportunities that may not end well, be distracting, or when I might not be the best fit for those involved. Hindsight always proves to have laser clarity and I have now gained the experience to use that laser clarity with confidence in advance.
Saying no is actually harder than saying yes. Especially when it comes to saying no to business opportunities. Saying no to potential clients gracefully when we don’t have the conviction that we can do it most effectively or in the way they want us to proceed is difficult but saves you stress and money in the long run. When you’re honest about that, it will be more valuable to your business and mean more to everyone involved than saying yes and getting it wrong.
Say no when you know you can’t sell it for the price they demand.
Say no when you know you can’t meet their expectations with marketing, communication, or otherwise.
Say no when your personalities don’t mesh and you’re bound to wind up in a conflict.
Say no when you know you should.
Or say no, not right now and revisit it in the future when the pieces might be a better fit.
And above all else, always always always say it gracefully, never with arrogance or anger.
Knowing when to say no has taken a long time to learn and execute and still takes practice.