No means No. Most of the time I agree.
Here is where it doesn't. When your No leads to their Yes.
There is a toy company that just put it out to the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) that they said No to Amazon. That's a pretty big deal. That's a lot of volume in one place that they turned down. That's a lot of sales missed.
They said no to an opportunity for more sales and more money. And many, many more stores that had maybe been on the fence about carrying their product just said Yes to them.
We're talking about Trust. Trust is the most critical element you have to earn to grow your customer base and increase customer loyalty. In Tom Wanek's book Currencies That Buy Credibility, one of those currencies you can pay is Opportunity.
When you are willing to turn down opportunities just to stay true to who you are, you earn trust. When you put your mission ahead of profits, you earn trust. When you say, "No, we won't do it that way even though it might be (easier, more lucrative, more profitable)," you earn trust.
Tom brings up the Toyota-founded company Scion that makes those funky, weird-looking vehicles. Scion could sell tons more vehicles than they do, but they don't want to be a mass-market company. So instead of ramping up production, they limit it and scale it back so that their vehicles remain rare and funky. Their customer base, having seen them forego opportunity to remain true to the original mission, has a level of trust far higher than otherwise.
There are certain toys every year that I just say No to. Why? Because they don't have the Play Value that is so necessary for children. Could I sell a whole bunch of these other toys? Sure. They have shelf-appeal and advertising behind them. But if I spent decades talking about Play Value and then started selling these toys, I would lose all credibility the moment I put those toys on the shelf.
When you say No, you mean No. But sometimes your No leads to another person's Yes.
PS The picture above is a product called Baby Paper. Yes, I plan to order it. They earned my trust. I want to repay it. That was my initial reaction and it will be your customer's initial reaction when they see you turn down opportunities just to remain loyal to your mission and your current customer base. Not only will I order, I'll tell others like me to order. Not only will your loyal customers remain loyal, they'll bring others like them to the table. That is what Trust does.