Photo by Logan Ingalls

When you’re looking to expand your customer base, the last thing you want to say to a potential new client 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!” and if you don’t offer what a potential client is seeking, such ebullient responses may seem out of reach. But 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.

You may not offer the specific service a potential client has in mind, but perhaps you can provide something similar, or even more impressive. Consider the result your prospect is seeking. Can you help them get there? Share a story about how your product or service has made a positive impact on current customers, and chat about the creative ways you’ve helped your clients. Saying “No” is also an opportunity to show confidence in your business: “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 show some love 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!