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Saying no the right way is an art form. A prospect asks you for a discount? A customer asks you to build another feature? A fellow entrepreneur asks you for a coffee meeting? A job candidate asks you for a contract?
Most people don’t like saying no, because they’re afraid how the other party might react when you reject them. But when you learn to say no the right way, it’s better for everyone involved.
The request for a feature you don’t want to build? Most sales people and founders will respond something along the lines of: “Oh, that’s a great suggestion! We’ll pass that on to the engineers so they can add it to the product roadmap.” And then nothing happens. They told the prospect what he wants to hear, but ultimately they disappoint.
What you can do instead is to view this as an opportunity to educate them about your product and its value. Ask them why they want this feature – this way you can learn more about their needs and try to identify workarounds.
You can even recommend them a competing vendor that might be better suited for this particular customer – while you might lose out on a customer that way, you providing value, and that can lead to great word of mouth.
When someone asks you for a coffee meeting, just tell them to start by email. Ask them to write you why they want to meet you and then try to be helpful via email or get on a call if necessary.
When it comes to rejecting a job applicant, then be very upfront about it. If you’ve scheduled a one hour interview, but after ten minutes you can already tell this won’t happen – don’t waste the other 50 minutes pretending they have a chance. Tell them right then and there: “Let’s stop right here. I think this is not a good fit because x, y and z. I know some companies who might be better suited for you, if you want I can make an introduction. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you, because I can’t hire you.”
In the short-term, it might feel uncomfortable to say no to people, but if you can still be helpful to them in other ways, it’s the better choice in the long-term.
Hiten: When someone says No to you, find out why. That feedback is key to you improving in the future.
Steli: Fight the urge to resist a No. No is just a moment of truth you can build upon.
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