Selling Handmade- Saying No

Selling Handmade- tips for people who want to sell the stuff they make from someone who sells stuff they make.

A lot of people in North America are raised that when someone asks you for something, saying no is just not something you do. It’s not nice. It’s not polite. However, saying no is one of the most vital things you will have to do as a small business owner. While most customers are great to work with, there are some that will make unreasonable demands of your time and business capital.

The most important thing about saying no, DO NOT APOLOGIZE UNLESS YOU’VE DONE SOMETHING WRONG. You can be apologetic, you can have a regretful tone, but the second you apologize, that implies you have something to apologize for. Saying no is not doing something wrong (provided it’s done with good customer service).

Secondary to that, do not pile on excuses. It is good customer service (in most cases) to provide a reason for saying no, but saying no is not behaviour you need to excuse.

Also, the best way of saying no is to not say no. Avoid the hard no. “That won’t work for me.” “Here’s what I can do.” “I’m not able to do that.”

If you sell online for long enough, at some point someone will ask you for a discount. Just out of the blue, ask for a discount. You don’t have to give them one just because they’re asking for it. You may decide that you can afford them a small discount, or you can say something like, “My prices are pretty much as low as they can be, given the cost of materials I spend and the time it takes me to make them.” Some people will still buy, some people may not, and some people wouldn’t have bought it even if you said yes.

Other sales-related things you may run into (and I have seen or have friends who’ve seen all of these): I know I bought that $5 thing, but just send me the $15 thing, ok? Can I have 4 free samples? Why don’t you send it to me now, and I’ll pay for it next Wednesday?

Be polite and be firm: I don’t offer free samples at this time. I will send it to you (or get started) as soon as I receive payment.

With custom orders, there may come a time when you need to say no as well. While most customers don’t, some people just keep wanting to make round after round of changes. As LizzieMade noted on my post about custom orders, the best way to deal with this is to send out a detailed list of what you will be doing. You may want to include on your list that the price includes one round of changes that adheres to your list, and anything beyond that will carry an additional charge. That way, all you have to do is refer to the specifications and say something like, “I can certainly do that at additional cost.”

If worse comes to worse and you simply can’t work with your customer anymore, you can cancel the order. If they get too demanding or threatening/verbally abusive, if you’ve had a bad transaction with them previously, if they refuse to pay you.

And finally, sometimes you need to say no to suppliers. “We’re out of the purple glitter, so we’ll just send you silver glitter instead.” Only your customer specified that the glitter HAD to be purple. “No thank you, just refund me the portion for the purple glitter.” Then you can get your purple glitter somewhere else. Always, ALWAYS check on your suppliers’ policies before you shop with them. Find out what their policies are on canceling orders or returning stock. Find out what happens if they are out of stock on something- will it be backordered? Will they issue store credit?

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