Just say “NO!”

Sep 19, 2013 | Sales

It’s a Powerful Word

Two-year-olds have it down!  Saying no is so natural to them.   Why is it so much harder for us as adults?  I know it is for me anyway. In fact, I am so bad at saying no, my step-mom got me a t-shirt that says, “Somebody stop me before I say yes, again.” I am an over-committer! I admit, and I need to do a better job of saying no!


Prioritizing is one of the most important aspects of productivity. In order to prioritize, you have to say no to those things that bring the least value, so you can say yes to the things you need and want to do.  When I say yes to too many things I get stressed and wonder what on earth I was thinking. The answer is, I wasn’t!

Many of the salespeople I work with, like me, are over committers. I believe it is part of the personality that also makes us good at sales.  If you want or need more time for sales, you have to say no to some other things.

My friend, Tom Drews, taught me the concept of putting everything I need to do on a spreadsheet and labeling them A,B,C or D.  We barely have time to get to our As, let alone our Bs, Cs and Ds.   When I know what my As are, it is easier to say no to less important things.  When it isn’t that clear I say, “Let me think about that.  Can I get back to you in a couple of days?”

Before saying yes, sleep on it, if you can, and if it’s something you want to do, figure out if you have time.  If it works for you, great, if it doesn’t, you can let them know that you checked your schedule and workload and you won’t be able to take it on. Be polite and diplomatic, but say no.

If it’s your boss and you can’t say no, then you need to say, “I’ve checked my calendar and workload, and in order to take this on I will have to let something else go or change some deadlines. What would you like me to do?”

Don’t Explain

I realize that sometimes you have no choice, but many times you do, and you have to speak up. There are always great events to attend, projects you want to work on and people who need you.  Get really clear about your priorities, and focus on those activities that match. If you are like me, you don’t want to disappoint people and that is one of the things that make saying no hard. It’s OK, people will understand if you need to say no. Don’t feel the need to explain or worse, lie to cover the fact that you just can’t or don’t want to fulfill their request. “Thanks for asking, I am not going to be able to attend, or I am not going to be able to help with that,” is sufficient in most cases. Another way to handle requests is to give an alternative. Instead of just saying you can’t do something, tell them what you can do. “I can’t meet with you in person, but I do have time on Tuesday at 4 p.m. for a quick phone call.”

You Can Say No!

Sometimes you really do want the opportunity that has been presented but time just doesn’t allow. If you over-commit, you may be too stressed to enjoy doing it. I highly recommend that you join me in my effort to, Just Say “No!”

Tom Drews and I gave some tips for saying no on my recent Let’s Talk Sales webinar. If you missed it, you can listen to the recording here. After listening, if you’d like your team to receive this training, call me at 775-852-5020.

If you need any help saying no – I’ll help you, if you help me!  Please comment below on how you say no and maybe it will help all of us.

Alice Heiman

Alice Heiman

Alice is nationally known for her expertise in elevating sales to increase valuation for companies with a B2B complex sale that have exceptional growth potential. She’s originally, from the widely known Miller Heiman Group. Spending her time strategizing with CEOs and their leadership teams to build the strategies that find new business and grow existing accounts is her passion.  Her clients love her spirit and the way she energizes their sales organization.


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