Dr No & the art of the possible

How many times have we wanted to say No to clients? Try to think back over your last week & the number of calls, mails, meetings where No could have been the best possible agency position. But we’re in the service business & No doesn’t actually help anyone.

Someone once said to me that the best account handlers build bridges.

No burns bridges. No is a blocking word. No is final. No means No.

It doesn’t matter how many times a client makes an unreasonable request (and they’ll come thick, fast & in all different flavours) your job is play Doctor on the unreasonable & figure shit out. 9/10 ten of these requests can be handled with a bit of thinking through.

A reactive Yes is actually worse than No. It puts the team (and your integrity) at risk.

You need a considered response.

You need to be Dr No.

As much as you want to say that two letter word – you need breathe, stay calm, to get that mask on, scrub up with your team & figure out how to get with win/win.

When these tricky plays come in – around budget, time, creative dispute, change in the brief etc – make no comittment without consultation.

This is Dr No’s secret weapon: the simple, honest truth & expectation management.

Even after you’ve been discussing with your team mates you probably won’t actually arrive at a perfect solution. But you’ll get to something that works & keeps you moving forward.

Discuss, negotiate, colloborate & solve the problem like a team. Frame it with the client ‘here’s what’s possible – does this work?’ Ask questions. Get the information you need to have a constructive discussion around your magic triangle: time, budget & quality.

Even the most challenging of clients will be reasonable if you can frame the art of the possible around maybe/a qualified Yes rather than No.



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