What to do when a client says ‘no’

Are you feeling deflated after being rejected by a client? Find out what you can do when told ‘no’ – and how to turn it into a positive. 

As a freelancer or contractor, you’re used to creating a work-life balance that’s unique to your lifestyle and professional goals. You call the shots, deciding when you work, for whom and for how long.

So what happens when your client tells you ‘no’ to one of your ideas?

In this blog Jenny Winslow from Intouch Accounting explores what to do when faced with a ‘no’, and how to make it work in your favour.

Don’t take it personally

It’s human nature to translate a ‘no’ into a negative, as it feels like a rejection of our personal ideas and wishes. But before you let it get the better of you, take a step back and think about your day so far.

How many times have you thought or said ‘no’? What were the circumstances, and were they an absolute no, or maybe just a ‘not now?’

Your client could be saying ‘no’ for a number of different reasons, such as budget or time constraints, project direction, or they could just simply be having a bad day. The trick is not to take it to heart, but identify why it was a ‘no’, respect that reason and be sure to use that understanding when pitching a future idea to the client.

Make it clear what impact the client’s decision will have on your progress

This is a tough step to take, but if the client’s decision will impact your progress on the contract in hand, be sure to let the client know. Explain the impact their decision will have when pitching to them, and follow it up with a (very) polite email.

If, for whatever reason, they do not remember their decision in the future and this has an impact on your contract’s outcome, your email will serve as a paper trail that you can rely on, should the original decision be questioned.

Keep on truckin’

When faced with a negative it’s natural to guard yourself, and sometimes as a result this can impact the quality of your work.

Turn the negative into a positive – use it to fuel your determination to complete your contract on time, on budget and smash your client’s expectations. After all, at the end of the day you want to show the client that even without their ‘yes’ you were still able to deliver and exceed their expectations.

Turn their ‘no’ into a ‘wow!’

Humans have a nifty way of adapting when faced with challenges. Consider how many times you’ve used an object for a purpose other than what it was intended for. In the context of contracting and freelancing, do the same for their ‘no’.

For example, you’ve noticed a way in which you can improve the client’s project, but your contract will need to be extended for you to complete the extra work. Your client says ‘no’ and leaves you feeling slightly deflated.

When the contract is finished, be sure to show them how the extra work could have furthered their project and taken it to the next level. Circumstances may have changed, or they may now see value in the proposal you’re putting forward.

Whatever their decision may be, you can leave your contract knowing you’ve done what was expected, as well as going the extra mile. You’ll make quite the impression and will increase the possibility of a glowing testimonial and repeat work.

Hearing more ‘no’ than ‘yes’?

It could be a sign that you’re outgrowing being told what to do in contracts, and are moving more towards the project management or consultancy route.

So whilst constantly being told ‘no’ could discourage you, use it to your advantage and see if there’s a future for you in consultancy. After all, being able to see value outside of the box is a real gift, one that few possess and many clients are on the lookout for.

Final thoughts – don’t lose sight of why you went solo

Don’t let a client’s decision stop you from achieving your self-employed goals. You became your own boss for a reason, so ensure you take their ‘no’ and see the opportunities it creates, rather than the barriers. You never know, they could have just paved you a new career path or repeat work in the future.

Jenny Winslow works for Intouch Accounting, the expert contractor accountancy firm for Limited Company contractors.