Turn “no” into an opportunity to grow your business.

No one wants to hear “no.” And when you’re looking to grow your business, the last thing you want to say to a potential new customer is “No,” as in “No, we don’t do that…”! When a prospect makes the effort to contact you, you naturally want to WOW them with a “You bet we can!” or “Certainly — we’re great at that!” But if you don’t have what a potential client needs, such ebullient responses may seem inappropriate. However, you don’t have to say “Yes!” to impress customers.

Here are three ways “No” can be a positive thing:

“No” can be an opportunity to help a customer work through a problem.

OK, straight talk: your business won’t always offer the specific services a potential client is requesting. But perhaps you can provide something similar, or even more impressive! What result does your prospect need—can you help them arrive at that? Share an anecdote about how your business has made a positive impact on current customers, or mention the creative ways you’ve helped your clients. Saying “No” is also an opportunity to showcase your what your business does well: “We don’t do that specifically, and here’s why…Instead, we offer something better! Let me tell you about it!”

“No” is an opportunity to refer customers to fellow businesses.

Maybe your company doesn’t offer an ideal solution for a potential client, but do you know someone who might be able to help? If so, name drop — you’ll be glad you did! Everyone loves a referral, and when you send business to another company, they’re likely to return the favor. Who doesn’t like having friends?

A thoughtful “No” might mean a future customer.

Never pass up an opportunity for a friendly chat — show an interest in every potential customer’s needs, even if your business isn’t the best fit. If you’re helpful to a potential client who is seeking something you don’t offer, chances are they’ll return to you in the future when they do need your help or when a friend of theirs could use your services. Chatting with potential clients can also be a great way to make decisions about future business choices.

Are lots of potential customers clamoring for something in particular? If so, maybe it’s time to expand your services! Customer feedback comes in all shapes and sizes, and the data you collect from people who WANT to be customers can be helpful. If you get the same requests often enough, it’s clear there’s a gap in the market—which is an opportunity for you!

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