Clients turn us down all the time. Aren’t we ever allowed to return the favor?
I say, heck yes! Sometimes, for one reason or another, we get that feeling in our gut that something just isn’t quite right. And it’s always best to heed rather than ignore those red flags.
But let’s say you’re in the middle of your meeting with a potential client, and then you realize you should turn down the project? Do you just get up and leave, or throw water in their face (stay classy).
The answer is, none of the above. As professionals, we should always strive to remain as professional and humble as possible, especially when delivering bad news. Thus, I’m a big fan of the break up routine.
“It’s not you, it’s me.”
When the time comes to turn down a project, the client usually falls into one of two categories:
- A client whom you’d like to work with later, possibly at a better time or on a different project, and
- A client you wouldn’t want to work with, ever. Period.
Regardless of where on the spectrum they may fall, it’s never a good idea to burn bridges. You never know who they know or what they may say on the intertubes about you.
So, with that in mind, it’s best to frame the denial in terms of the problem being with you rather than them.
Try to be as graceful as possible by saying something along the lines of:
“I don’t think I’m a good fit for this project.”
“I actually don’t do this type of work anymore.”
“I’m not looking to add (project type) to my portfolio at this time.”
“I’m afraid that I’m too booked at the moment for a project like this.”
“I’m sorry, I have previous commitments and won’t be able to give you the highest level of service.”
If their budget is the issue, and you’d really rather not work with them anyway,
“I understand if professional freelance rates aren’t in your budget right now.”
“As I cannot lower the quality of my work, I cannot lower my prices.” Thanks to David Airey for that one (rockstar!).
Again, try to make it about you as much as possible. This will prevent any feelings from getting hurt and/or the client getting pissed off.
Saying “yes” to something inevitably means you’re saying “no” to something else. Click To Tweet
Remember, saying “yes” to something inevitably means you’re saying “no” to something else.
The opposite is also true. Everything is give and take. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather say “no” to the wrong projects so I can say “yes” to the right ones!
So, with that in mind, always know that it’s in your right to say “no.” Just use it wisely.