• Feb 3, 2019

Making connections and building relationships are crucial to success if you are in sales in any form or fashion. So, obviously, the last thing I want to do is burn bridges. This means that every time somebody asks me to do something, volunteer for their event, or buy their product I always say yes. OK, not really. Actually, that can’t be further from the truth.

Part of being in sales also involves making the most out of my time and money. So, what happens when someone asks me to do something I don’t want to do or buy something I don’t need? Well, I tell them no. But I do so in a kind and professional manner.

Below is an e-mail I recently sent telling somebody no. They had asked if I would like to co-sponsor an event with them and provide promotional products in return for free advertising. Here is my response:

“It was nice to meet you. It sounds like [name of business] has a lot going on. I can't wait to see all the wonderful things you [and business] will accomplish this year.

Thanks for thinking of me for this opportunity. That is a great idea to look for a sponsor for [name of event and business]. Unfortunately, we won't be the best fit. We found out several years ago that for us the most effective form of advertising is targeted and individualized marketing. We primarily work with larger corporations doing business to business. Methods of advertising to larger or mass groups isn't something we utilize or benefit from as a company. I'm sure there are other businesses, however, that would jump at the opportunity.

Of course, if you are ever interested in purchasing any promo items, we would be more than happy to assist you; and if there are other ways that we can help you let me know and I will see if there might be a good fit in other capacities. We love promoting and helping local businesses and companies where we can.



Based upon this e-mail I sent, I want to bring to your attention several points.

First, compliment. Always begin with a sincere compliment of the person and/or the business. You do not want the person to think you are rejecting them or their business (unless you really are, but that is a different subject altogether). Instead, make it clear you are rejecting the opportunity because it didn’t fit within your business model.

Second, appreciate. Thank the person. If they spent time trying to sell you a product, thank them for their time. They could have been with somebody else. Instead, they were with you. Let them know that you appreciate it. If they sent you an offer or opportunity, thank them for the opportunity.

Third, tell the truth. Tell them why you aren’t going to be able to buy their product or join with them in their offer. You don’t have to give a detailed defense. There is no need in overdoing it, but it is vital that you give an honest reason (don’t just put them off).

Fourth, offer. Volunteer your time and services in ways that you are willing to help. This can be in specific or general ways.

Finally, accept. Realize that sometimes feelings will still get hurt. Even if you are as kind as possible, some people will still get hurt because you said no. This is just part of reality. However, if you were kind, professional, and honest then you can go away knowing that you made the best decision.

What ideas and suggestions do you have when it comes to telling other business people no in a professional and kind way? 

- Kevin Pendergrass

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