How To Say ‘No’ To Clients In Your Creative Workflow Process

Read time: 2 minutes

Clients can be great to work with. They challenge you creatively and inspire you to innovate. There can also be times when they ask you to take on an additional project with a tight timeline or change the scope past the cutoff date. When this happens, here are some strategies to say ‘no’.

1. Be Polite

“In our sign-off meeting, we agreed upon the scope of the project. I’m really sorry we can’t extend it right now; our team is working at capacity on the project and won’t be able to complete by the deadline if we add this. What if we complete this after the initial project is complete?”

Just as you have a full plate with deadlines, pressures, and competing priorities, so does your client. They likely forgot about an aspect of the project or have been asked to change the project. When saying ‘no’, put yourself in their shoes and tell them you understand their perspective. However, you know what’s within your creative workflow better than they do. When saying no, be patient and calm and explain why you’ve turned down their request.

2. Be Firm

“I understand you’d like a rainbow gradient, but in our professional opinion, it doesn’t match your brand identity.”

Whatever the request is, you’ve said no for a reason. Perhaps what they’ve asked will require more time or budget than what has been agreed upon, or their vision isn’t up to par with what your team wants to deliver. You know how your agency works better than your client and it is better to say no upfront rather than disappoint them when the delivery isn’t what they wanted. In the discussion, listen to what they’re after, perhaps there was a misunderstanding and you can do what they’ve asked. Be patient and honest if you can’t do it.

3. Offer An Alternative

“Here’s a creative brief template you can use that will give us all the information we need to begin the project. When it’s filled in, our team can begin scoping out the work.”

If you’re saying no because it doesn’t work within your creative workflow process because of resource restraints or not following the correct steps in getting the work into the process, tell the client why and what they could do to help make it work. Perhaps they need a creative brief template to clarify the scope or wait until the project timeline has fully be established.

Whatever it is you’re saying no to, the most important thing to do is stay calm and flexible. ‘No’ doesn’t mean the end of a relationship, in fact, it can improve the client relationship as they begin to understand your professional perspective better.

With Function Point’s all-in-one agency management software, you’ll have full visibility into projects, resources, and budgets, making it easy to manage your agency creative workflow. Book a demo to see how your agency can benefit from an agency management software.