“But Ashli, what if they push back? What if they’re not sure? What if they say no?” When a client shows hesitation or brings up a reason they may not move forward, this may feel like they’re gone for good and leaving forever. That’s not the case. Almost always they’re seeing what kind of rules you can bend (i.e. “Is there any way we can start sooner?” “Do you have any flexibility on the price?”) or they’re opening up the conversation to have an honest talk about needs (i.e. “Full transparency, I can’t really begin this service until October.” “I may not be ready at the moment because I have to prioritize this other major need”).
These are perfectly fine and acceptable, but I still want you to be prepared for them. So how do we do that? Let’s discuss what happens when people say no, when they’re not ready, and when they’re nervous about the purchase as well as a general briefing on boundaries while we’re at it.
2 things to remember here: Consent matters in all aspects of life, my friends. No is no. If they say “Ok I don’t think this is what I need actually, but I’m glad we discussed” we respect that. My hope would be that you are talking to responsible adults able to comprehend and understand your conversation while making a strong decision for themselves. With that caveat aside, they know best. They are looking for a solution while also sifting through many file folders of their minds of other priorities they need to consider. Maybe they have an elderly family member they are primary caretaker for, and you have no idea. Maybe they are planning to move to a new country soon. Maybe they just let go of their team and they’re concerned about their financial position. We have no idea what goes on in the intricacies of one’s business or personal life. If you receive a no, it’s no – with kindness, with empathy, with respect.
What we do say is: “Great! I’m just happy we got to touch base. I’m around if your situation changes, and if you have anyone looking for what we do, we would happily pay [x dollars or x percent of purchase] towards anyone who sends someone our way!” — if true. But tbh, it should be lol
Final note – if you have a ton of great info on your website with how the service looks, the requirements from them, your deliverables and process, the price, and more, you’ll never get a no probably. They’re not getting on a phone to say yes or no, but to ask any questions since they’re 90% a yes.
When people aren’t ready for a service, you’ll either hear it straight up verbatim, OR they’ll say things that indicate they’re not ready.
You’ll know they’re not 100% ready when there’s something that decides if they move forward: a business partner may have to weigh in, if a launch goes well, when they look at options, basically – if or when xyz happens, we’re on.
That is all incredibly fair and I’ve said this before and gone on to hire that person because my “xyz” did happen and I had the space/capacity/financials to begin our service. The trick here is standing in your power and not swaying to ebb and flow that they feel. What I don’t want to hear is: “Sure! Anytime! Whenever you want! We’re always ready for new clients so we can sign whenever. No problem at all, we just want you to feel supported”. All of this is true I’m sure, and none of it is bad but psychologically, it’s very “gimme” language that can resonate with your leads as…almost desperation.
Instead you can stand in your power and say the same kind of thing with a totally different vibe: “Great! Right now, we have capacity to bring on clients on a rolling basis but our goal is to grow. I can’t promise we’ll have the space later but now that we’ve talked I want to make sure we have a space for you when you’re ready. When you decide to move forward, let us know sooner rather than later so we can hold a spot for you and make sure we’re your go to person for the service!”
Do you see the difference?
Servitude does not have to look like “I will do anything you want whenever you want as long as I get paid any amount of money”. That’s lack of boundaries, and an overall “lack” mindset. A strong business owner recognizes she has plenty of capacity at the moment, but you and I both know that can change in an instant. So let them know that your availability could change and they should give you a heads up when they know you’re ready or you may have to say no to helping them. This is true too – what if you got 6 clients this week from the pitching you’ve been doing? You won’t have the same capacity as before. Sharing that with them gives them a roadmap for how best to work with you.
Sometimes, I’ve found clients simply need one thing to make the purchase: permission. This happens less frequently but enough to be mentioned. When clients need permission, they need someone to tell them that it’s ok to invest, it’s ok to grow, it’s ok to do the scary thing and that they’re supported by you. It’s amazing how many times I’ve said to people on calls “Listen I know this is a big investment but if you need to give yourself the permission, I give you permission. These big steps are hard, but I’m going to give you the space to make a good educated decision, take a breather, and think on what you want for yourself long term” and they respond “You have no idea how much I just needed permission to do this. I’m in”.
Now this ones a touch tricky because you have to know what you’re looking for. These people are the ones who are:
If someone says “I know I need to do this but I’m just so nervous”, you’ve met someone who needs permission.
Some of you are going to haaaaaaate what I have to say this, but don’t hate the messenger – I got this straight from my therapist years ago and it’s completely changed how I see my interactions.
YOU are the only person who can disrespect your boundaries. Social media tells us that boundaries are something others should respect: “I don’t want you to talk about xyz in front of me, and if you do I don’t know if we can be friends” as an example. This means that all of us have to walk around learning, memorizing, and understanding each individual boundary for all the people in our life. It’s not possible and it’s not correct. “I don’t want you to talk about xyz in front of me” may be true, but the boundary is actually “I may have to change how our friendship looks”. Boundaries are not rules for others to follow, it’s a guidebook we use to say when these things happen, I react this way. It’s our own inner Owners Manual. If this, then that.
Now how does this apply to business?
I can’t tell you how many posts I see on IG about “what to do when a client disrespects your boundaries” and they drive me gotdayum CRAZY because clients have every right to ask away and see where the line is to bend. Clients and team members ask me all the time “Am I able to send this to you tomorrow instead of today?” “Are we able to move today’s call?” “Can we add one more deliverable to this?” and that may sound like they’re intruding on my boundaries. That’s not the case. Because what if they can send it tomorrow and that’s fine with me? What if I can move today’s call? What if they can add one deliverable to our project? They have every right to ask, and we have every right to say no. Boundaries look like saying “Unfortunately, we’re going to need it today” “Sorry I don’t allow moving calls!” “As per the scope, we cannot offer additional deliverables”. The person responsible for the yes/no is you not the client. They should always ask so they know what the parameters of a situation look like.
So if you’re on a discovery call and someone says “I need this to start next month though” or “I’m really looking for something about $1,000 less than this” “Is there any way you can also do xyz service?” they. are. correct. in. asking. because they don’t know. Do not get frustrated at them. Do not view them as disrespectful. They’re not offending you, they’re asking to be educated. The question is “Where’s the line? and what are we able to customize?” Simply state the truth, and share that it’s how you run your business and you hope they respect that. If they’re normal mature adults also running a business, they will.
Get on calls with people.
Be a human.
Listen to them genuinely.
Ask even more questions.
Give them options.
Listen to their objections.
Handle no’s as an opportunity to better understand their needs.
Give them autonomy to make their own decision.
Respect those decisions.
Of course we all want sales calls to end in a yes, but what happens if they say no? Or they’re not ready? Here’s how to handle those situations.