JUST SAY “NO” (nicely, please)

Yesterday I spent a good part of my day in a meeting with a client team talking about saying “no”, and how to do it nicely. Now this was a sales team so you might guess their usual response to almost everything was “sure”, “no problem”, “yes we can do that”. You know what was resulting: over promising and under delivering.

I’ve come to two conclusions the longer I work in marketing:

Conclusion #1 – It is indeed all about time. Even the best ideas, in the hands of the smartest people can be crippled by not enough time. As I watch the reality shows like Design Star, Top Chef and American Idol – it’s all the same, managing time is as important as the other components including talent.

Conclusion #2 – Knowing what NOT to do is the true sign of experience, and thus your value to a team or to a customer. “No that ad will not work”, “No that shoe is not for you” and “No I cannot do it fast, cheap and with excellence” would all be welcome responses in the big picture.

Most of us appreciate the rare salesperson or business owner who tells it to us straight, with a logical explanation for why NOT and does it in a way that leaves us feeling a real connection to them, and to the product or service they represent.

I absolutely believe that a big part of my job is to do the same and teach my clients to be OK with just saying “no”. Nicely of course.

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