4 Email Scripts to Help You Say No to a Client Politely [Honest & Direct]

say no to client professionally

As a freelancer or service-provider, you will find yourself in situations where you have to say no to a client. However, the difficult part is knowing how to say no to a client professionally.

How do we say no to clients politely without tarnishing the relationship or creating a bad reputation for ourselves?

This blog post will guide you on how to say no professionally including some email templates you can use whenever you have to. I will also explain to you why saying ‘no’ is a skill you need to learn and how it will improve your personal and professional life!

So if you want to find out how to say no like a pro, keep reading!

If you don’t have time to read through this blog or simply prefer to watch a video instead, watch my YouTube video on how to say no to a client professionally.

Why saying no to a client is okay

#1. Saying no to a client improves our Self-Worth and Self-Love

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” – Brene Brown

Saying No is empowering and comforting. When you say no, you are telling yourself that you value yourself, your value your time, you value your energy, your talent and your skills.

You take the power away from a stranger. You are taking back control and don’t we need that.

Remember: Your life, your decisions, your responsibility. Nobody else’s 

#2. Saying no to a client makes space for more opportunities!

One thing I’ve realized every time I’ve said no it has just freed up space for me to look for new clients and new projects that might be more challenging and exciting for me.

And new clients are always an opportunity to create a fresh proposal where you are can create a new pricing that works better for you.

Especially learning from mistakes with previous clients, you can make sure you are hitting all the ifs and maybes in this new proposal and prices you are charging.

#3. Saying no to a client helps you develop an abundance mindset

A scarcity mindset is when we are constantly thinking that there will not be other people, opportunities, chances.

We believe that everything is limited and if we say no to a client that means one less project/ client/ less money and our lives are then, for lack of a better word, ruined. It will be a DISASTER.

On the other hand, having an abundant mindset means that we are optimistic about the future and we see opportunities coming our way. 

According to Marie Forleo

“When you change a belief, you change everything”

Beliefs > Thoughts > Feelings > Behavior > Results

Your beliefs affect your thoughts which affect your feelings, your behaviour and ultimately the results. 

Once you start saying no to a client and make space for fresh opportunities, you will start developing a strong abundance and growth mindset and it’s just exponential from there!

3 Things you should think about before saying no to a client:

I’m going to give you some tips on how to say no to your client in a polite but firm manner, but before we cover that, there are some things I want you to think about before you even do say that magical word.

#1. If it’s an email, sleep on it. 

You might realize something important and change your mind the next day 🙂 and if it’s live, ask them for some time to think about it…and then sleep on it!

#2. Do you even enjoy working this client?

In the 4 hour work-week, Tim Ferris, talks about using the 80/20 principle when dealing with clients. 

That is, examining whether 80% of complaints are coming from 20% of clients which is draining your energy and generally putting you in a bad mood.

The issue with this is since now your in a bad mood, you might not be doing your best for the rest of the 80% adorable clients and spending too much energy and time trying to work on complaints and request from 20% of your clients.

Assuming they are all paying the same rates, this is not working in your favor and is actually a huge disservice to the good clients.

So sometimes, you gotta just get rid of the 20% and focus on the 80% of good clients and bathe in the warmth of fewer complaints, demands, and unlimited favors from certain clients.

Your time and energy is valuable – give them to the right people!

#3. Ask for more info

Sometimes misunderstanding/ miscommunications may happen because you are focusing too much on the money or time aspect of things. 

The stress of not being paid enough or simply not having the time to complete these projects could be the reason why you feel compelled to say no and say no fast. Take a breather and ask for more information. 

What exactly does the client want? Is there a faster or alternative way to bring the same result without costing you extra time or money? 

At the end of the day, a client needs a specific result so if you can switch things up or offer an alternative that they can think about without it being a lose situation for you, they will appreciate your input!

Ok, now the juicy part –

How to we say no to a client politely: 4 honest and direct templates

#1. Be honest and straightforward

Don’t beat around the bush.

If it’s a service that you absolutely know you do not want or cannot provide, say it clearly. You don’t need to add fluff or overexplain things –  just go like this:

“ Dear __, unfortunately, I will not be able to do that “thing” for you as they are not part of the scope of this project. This new request will take more time/ involve more hours. However, if you want to discuss the project again, I can surely come up with a new proposal including this new request. Please let me know what you decide”

#2. Remind them of the scope of the project 

Remind them what the terms of the project was and what they signed up for. You can offer an hourly rate or a new proposal for the new request.

“ Dear ___, I understand that you now require xxx. Since this was not part of the original proposal, kindly note that I will be available to do this at my hourly rate of $xx/hour or I can review and resend you a new proposal including your new requirements. Please let me know what you decide”

#3. Offer alternative solutions

If it makes sense to, let them know that you can’t do this yourself but you are happy to offer alternatives.

“Dear client, I understand that you require xxx Although I will not be able to offer those services to you, may I offer this alternative solution instead: xxx I hope this can help you achieve the results you are looking for. Let me know if you have any questions.”

#4. If there is no way of negotiating then say bye 

You’ve outgrown each other and that’s ok! You don’t owe your client any favors and if it feels like they expect you to be doing more at the same rates then it’s time to move on, there’s plenty of opportunities coming your way!

If you are planning to final no, then my advice is to do it over a video call and explain that you do not think that your heart is in this project anymore and you prefer to move on to something else as they deserve someone more committed. 

What to avoid when saying no to a client

Whatever way you are planning to say no, here are some things your should NOT be doing:

  • Saying yes, then saying no
  • Taking “too” long to say no
  • Saying yes then complaining during and after the project (you made your bed now, you gotta sleep in it)
  • Saying no and calling your client out. 

“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”

– Tim Ferris

PS: Figuring out this whole creative freelancing thing? Download my high ticket blueprint – the exact method I used to book clients for my high ticket copywriting services and make $5-10k a month! Click here to download.