The definitive email template for saying no to a client

A client has emailed you with a request and you know that you’re going to have to turn them down. No one likes to say “no,” so, like many other lawyers, accountants, and consultants, you spend a lot of time dragging your feet trying to let them down gently. Time is very valuable in the professions so to make this process less painful, here is a foolproof template for how to say no to a client email.

The typical structure of a refusal email

Regardless of your reason for declining a client request, if you follow this specific structure when you craft your email, you can say “no” to new clients or existing clients quickly and effectively.

Start with an appreciation of time and work

Show your appreciation for their time and their interest in working with you/the firm. You want to start the email positively by acknowledging how much you value their business and then show them that you understand their certain need or issue.

Break the news

Deliver the news of rejection as early on and as quick as possible in the email. Be clear and firm in your decision. Don’t leave anything open to interpretation that can raise the client’s hopes.

Follow this up with your explanation

When thinking about how to say no to a client email effectively, it is all about explaining why you have to decline. Give them an honest and proper reason that will help them understand the rejection and come to terms with it.

Offer alternative ways to work together

If you actually want to work with the client, suggest other ways of partnership or discuss how you can maybe work together in the near future. If you want to cut most of your ties with them, try to help them find an alternative to get the job that they need done.

Close the email

A proper closing should leave a favourable impression on your client. The idea is that, although the client will be disappointed with the refusal, they’ll see you as helpful for finding them another solution and caring for the effort that you made.

An example “Thanks but no thanks” email template

Following the structure of the refusal email, here is a generic example of how to say no to a client email.

For a new client:

Hi [name],

Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out to me and for your interest in our business. We really appreciate you putting your trust in our services.

Unfortunately, at this time, we are not able to fulfil your request for you [insert reason: time restraints, not a good fit for the firm etc].

Should things change, I will of course be in touch.

In the meantime, however, I would like to be available to you for any specific guidance that you may need to find a solution for the work that you are looking for.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d be very keen to help.

Yours Sincerely [or a sign off of your choice],

[Name]

Start saying “no” efficiently and effectively

Make the process of refusal much less painful by creating your own email templates. The above structure shows you how to say no to a client email so use it to craft the perfect email template.

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