Knowing when to say NO – by Patrick Bauer

For many sales people, the thought of turning down business would instantly blow the fuse in their brains. In today’s volatile economic climate how could you possibly say no to business?

Having a minimum success criteria for the type of business that you WANT to do, associating with companies that you WANT to partner with and having a budget that you CAN work with may almost seem arrogant, but the reality is that because of the current global economic Tsunami sweeping across businesses globally, the companies that have strongly rooted themselves in long term partnerships with financially secure corporates and solid provider’s, are the ones that will not only survive, but thrive. Referring my Colleague Tim Kroons Article How to effectively engage with a software-services provider (, He talks about identifying the right partner as an exercise that can cause an organisation to reflect on its own culture and objectives. Identifying a partner whose values align with your own company’s is important because the individuals who embrace those values, will be an integral part of your project teams.

The cost of doing bad business not only effects the bottom line, but has many adverse effects including broken trust, bad references and not just an unhappy customer, but an unhappy work force. Let’s face it, they are the ones on the ground doing the work, in the face of the customer, and the most important facet of any successful company is their hard working and motivated human capital.

Having a minimum success criteria for taking on business ensures that you stick to your core focus of why you went into business in the first place. Diversification needs to be considered, particularly in this fast paced world we live in. Saying yes if it’s strategic, and has the potential to meet your success criteria “eventually” is sometimes necessary. Perhaps it’s an exciting and innovative project that will create credibility and put your company forward as thought leaders. Goodwill and philanthropy have their own rewards, but don’t underestimate the power of “no,” which can help your business grow far faster than saying “yes” will.

Setting the expectation upfront allows a transparent working relationship and enables you to focus on delivery to align with the value you offer your customer. When you do exceptional work on great projects for top clients, they tend to send more top clients with great projects your way. In our personal experience, we have for 14 years predominantly received our work through referrals. We have built our reputation as an honest partner that’s willing to have tough conversations in the interest of doing better business and achieving better results. Our long standing customers continually provide us with profitable work, are keen to be used as references (also gives them an opportunity to brag) and our staff are loyal and committed.

Bringing on new business is always exciting, but learning to say NO at the right times will keep your business, staff and customers happy and secure in the value you bring when you do say YES.