Official FAQ
Official FAQ Answer Wiki at SavvySME

When should you say no to new business?

When have you said no, and why? 

Top voted answer
Keith Dugdale


Top 30% Sales Strategy

When the work or client is not a good fit. By that I mean several things:

  1. Where their culture does not fit with yours
  2. Where the potential client is not one you have determined you should be working with as part of your strategy.  You either need to change your strategy or say no.
  3. Where you have to "buy" the work by dropping your price.
  4. Where you cannot provide your A+ service / product because you are too busy etc.

Steve Gray

Steve Gray, Director at Gray Capital Investments

Top 10% Marketing

When there is little value to the possible transaction - for instance an architect and a new cliet, the architect has a charge of $40k min for a job, the new client wants a small house and wants to only pay $30k, Sure they like your work and want what you have but you might be selling your soul in the puruit of work. So be careful.

Yee Trinh

Yee Trinh, Cofounder at

Yep. Sometimes it's easy to forget that the client needs to sell to you as much as you need to sell to them. If it's not the right fit, don't bother wasting your time.

Steven Brown

Steven Brown, Chairman at

I am an excellent lawyer dealing with business matters.  I do not do personal injury law or crime.  

While debt recovery work is business related, most people do not pay small debts because they simply do not have the money to pay the debt. Clients that chase such people only end up paying lawyers and get no return for the money they pay. There is no value in upsetting a person you have never worked for in taking on a job to get paid but not add value to them. I say no to such new business. I want a client that will be around for years. I do not want to burn off a new client when I know they are more likely to hate me and lawyers at the end of the process. 

Greg Reiffel


Top 20% Sales Strategy

Never. Make hay while the sun shines.

Jane Jones

Jane Jones, Manager at SavvySME

Thanks @Greg Reiffel 

Michael Simonetti

Michael Simonetti, Founder and Director at

Top 10% Sales Strategy

Google the Good, Fast, Cheap Venn Diagram. If a client wants 3, walk away.

Malcolm Dawes

Malcolm Dawes, Managing Director at

Only engage clients who have a need that you can fulfil successfully - and are prepared to pay the right rate for that.  That also means there will be times when a client thinks they have a need although it is not actually what is required.  A recent example from my learning and development business goes like this.
Client - Do you run presentation skills workshops?

dta -  Yes we do.  Why do you ask?

Client - Our people need to deliver market research data to our customers.  They do the research, crunch the statistics and give a presentation.  When can you run a course?

dta -  Before we look at a course, perhaps you can explain what is the purpose of the presentation.

Client -  When we show the data we want clients to buy further services from us.  We need to use the presentation to sell these services.  The data proves the need for them to do something with their marketing - we want to provide a service to manage that for them.  At the moment we aren't really getting the traction with our customers for those services.

dta -  So what type of sales skills do your people possess?

Client -  They don't have selling skills.  They are statisticians and researchers.

We engaged this client for a sellings skills program incorporating a customer behavioural module before we did anything about presentation skills.

If we had delivered a presentation skills workshop, nothing would improve as the true need was selling skills capability and customer engagement skills.  The consequence of that would be that we did not do a good job with the presentation skills.  That could then lead to no further work with that client.  As it turned out they became a long term client.


Paulette McCormack

Paulette McCormack at

Top 20% Human Resources

When you feel that the business is not aligned with what you believe and when they do not hold the same value as you do to your service. Finally, if they get you to discount your price. I once let another business do all those and it ended in disaster and I nearly gave up my business as it was so stressful and horrible. Stand true to yourself.