When it's ok to say 'no' to clients
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When it's ok to say 'no' to clients

by
Samantha Kelly

Having been in business for the past 5 years, I am learning every day. At the start I wasn't sure how much to charge people. This seems to be an issue for many SMEs and start ups. My business, like many others has evolved over time. Sometimes you need to find out the hard way. The phrase 'busy fool' springs to mind here! Am sure many of you can identify with this one. But when you reach a certain stage it's time to allocate time for certain tasks and sometimes you have to say to yourself 'Do I actually need this customer or want this customer'. I wouldn't go to Tesco for example, and ask for a discount or go to training in a college and ask for a discount so why should small business owners have to do that? 

Here is my list of 'When to say no' to certain customers: 

1. 'Can you run my Social Media for less than normal price?' If someone wants one of the top Tweeters,  you have to pay for those results. I have proven that I can get results.   So if the budget isn't there for what you charge, recommend someone else for them to go to.  There are others who do what I do and they might be happy to do the work for a lower price. Give them some suggestions or give them some tips or suggest you train them in to do it themselves thus saving themselves more money in the long run. This particular customer, might just need some tips. So suggest you train them in to do it themselves.  Don't ever close the door to anyone. Always be helpful and share some knowledge but not all of your secrets or tips! (I run Twitter workshops all the time and do one to one lessons). 

2. 'Can we meet up for a coffee to chat and pick your brains?' Everyone knows by now, that I love to assist others. I often meet start ups or small business owners and give them tips on how to move forward and share my experience with them. This is fine too, but if you spend an hour with someone and they are only interested in what they can get from you, this is very unfair.  But there is a difference between a genuine start up reaching out, and someone taking advantage of you and taking your knowledge and ideas and then trying to do what you can do for them, but doing it incorrectly.  There are many times I have done out a proposal for businesses and they have just taken all the ideas and put them into practice themselves. Sometimes you just need to draw a line under this one and move on. But if someone asks for a coffee to pick your brains ask yourself: Do I already have a relationship with this person? Are they a start up reaching out for help? 

3. Can you work at weekends? As a Mum of two daughters with a lovely patient partner, it is important that I switch off and spend quality time with them. After all, why are we running our own businesses in the first place? To give our families a better quality of life! So when I am asked to work weekends, like if I was an employee working on a Sunday or Bank Holiday it is normal to pay them extra.  So, yes if you need a particular campaign run at the weekend, this would be extra. My clients actually know me and I love to be on Twitter myself at weekends in the evenings so if I spot anything relevant to my clients I already jump in and do a couple of tweets for them just as an extra part of my service. Social listening is very important, so if you see something happening that is relevant to your client, of course I will jump in and Tweet.  That is just good customer service. 

4. Can you speak at our event for free?  People who know me, will know that I do some volunteering and I often speak at charity events or young people's events for free. It depends on what the event is and who is running it also (This is where building relationships comes in).    If I already have a relationship with you or you already engage with me I am more likely to help you out and do something for you. Sometimes there are opportunities for you to share a stage with someone who you admire, or to get in front of lots of potential clients. I have often spoken at events where it is an advantage to me and to my business to be there and to assist others while I am there. People remember you for doing that.   But if people come to you and want you to speak at an event and add value then  you should expect to get paid. Especially if you will attract more attendees to that particular event. This is what I do. I help the organisers by tweeting about the event and sharing it with my network. I also live tweet while I am there! 

5. Listen to your Gut. I have started to listen to my gut more and more. Sometimes if it doesn't feel right It won't be right. My relationships with my customers are very important to me. If I am not as passionate as they are about their product or service then I won't do them justice. So I recommend someone else who would excel at what they are selling and someone who has the right connections for that particular product or service. I want happy customers!! Would love to hear your views on this?

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