AA 017 | Setting Boundaries


Are you taking on every single accounting prospect that walks through the door? Do you ever consider whether they’ll enhance your business or not? It’s time to step into the abundant life you’re working so hard for. It’s time to start turning down unqualified clients. This probably feels pretty scary. Having valuable income from clients is necessary, but what if I told you if you removed all of your less-than-ideal clients from your client roster, you’d be opening yourself up to bigger and better accounting opportunities?

If you’re ready to open yourself to new and exciting opportunities by turning unqualified clients, this episode of The Abundant Accountant Podcast is a MUST LISTEN! In this episode, I’m sharing the 3 steps accounting professionals can use to turn down any unqualified client that comes their way. Plus, I’m sharing some BONUS tips that will help increase your undance if you start taking action now! Enjoy, and thank you for listening and tuning into The Abundant Accountant Podcast!


Special thanks to all of my listeners! Be sure to join us for our next new episode!


P.S. Over the last 18 months, I’ve been perfecting something called the Selling Without Ever Selling System. Until now, only my high-end clients have had access to this information. But I’m so excited that I’m offering you a free coaching session so I can share this information with you too.


This system is about getting your IDEAL clients to YOU and finally getting paid what you’re worth so you can build your dream practice and still have the time and money to enjoy your family and kids.

If you’re tired of waiting for business, relying on busy seasons, or guessing what works, this free coaching session is for YOU.

Learn more at theabundantcall.com.


Here are a few key secrets we talked about in this episode:

Michelle introduces this episode’s topic.

  • Saying no to less-than-ideal clients will increase your value and worth.
  • The first step is knowing when to say NO to a client. Michelle shares how you know.
  • Lukeis a C.P.A. that Michelle has worked with. He has very specific stipulations for when he’s going to take a client on, and if the client isn’t willing to meet those stipulations, Luke will happily refer them to someone who is a better fit.
  • No more discounts! If a client keeps asking for a discount, it’s time to turn them away. They will NOT be an ideal client.
  • Another reason it would be good to turn away a client is if you’ve already overcommitted yourself. Step back before you can’t deliver on what you’ve promised.
  • Michelle shares an example from a client working with a truck driver who wanted to save money on taxes but wasn’t doing the work needed to save the money. Tune in to hear the story!
  • When it comes to saying NO, there’s a graceful way of doing it.
  • Be transparent if you’re letting a client know that you NO longer want to work with them. Explain why they’re not a good fit.
  • After telling a client NO, you must stick to your word. You cannot change your mind.
  • Remember that you never want to burn a bridge. Sometimes, some clients will come back down the road and be ideal clients. You don’t want to ruin that opportunity.
  • The next step is knowing WHY you’re saying NO. It doesn’t do you or your client favors to keep them on if they aren’t ideal for you.
  • Saying NO to opportunities that aren’t the perfect fit will open up space for perfect opportunities.
  • Telling a client NO is a great way to save yourself from working with a P.I.T.A. client.
  • Just as much as prospects are thinking about IF they want to hire you, YOU need to decide IF you want to work with THEM.
  • When telling a prospect NO, be sure to decline with gratitude. To learn what this means, you must listen to this episode!
  • Michelle’s final tip is to ensure that you position yourself as the expert. The potential client sitting in front of you doesn’t know as much as you do about accounting. Own that expert status.


Learn More & Connect With Me Here!


P.S. Do you feel you have to take on every single client walking through your doors? If so, THIS BLOG POST is a must-read! I’m teaching you how to say no to unqualified prospects and start making space for the ideal clients you’ve been dreaming of!

P.P.S. Over the last 18 months, I’ve been perfecting something called the Selling Without Ever Selling System. Until now, only my high-end clients have had access to this information. But I’m so excited that I’m offering you a free coaching session so I can share this information with you too.


This system is about getting your IDEAL clients to YOU and finally getting paid what you’re worth so you can build your dream practice and still have the time and money to enjoy your family and kids. If you’re tired of waiting for business, relying on busy seasons, or guessing what works, this free coaching session is for YOU.

Learn more at theabundantcall.com.

Listen to the podcast here


When And How To Say No Politely In Your Business

Before we dive into the episode, I wanted to give a warm thank you to our reviewer of the week. It goes to JBEA who’s on iTunes and says, “Abundance. Michelle brings fresh insight into the stale world of accounting. If you want to create a win-win for your firm and your clients, keep listening.” Thank you for the grateful, very nice review. I like to bring a lot of fun and joy into the world of accountants. I’ve got to personally work with a lot of you, maybe some of you even reading.

I love to see the transition that happens because I’m definitely more of an extrovert. I’m like a hybrid these days of introvert and extrovert. A lot of you might feel that you’re more of an introverted side, which I can understand from working with many accountants, but I wouldn’t call it stale. I would call it that I’m bringing just an outsider perspective into an industry that I truly believe each of you can make such a difference in your client’s life.

I would love to know from more of you about what it is that you’re taking into practice in your firms in every single episode that you’re reading. I would love it if you would subscribe and also leave a written review. I am going to take that review and highlight it in a future episode. Thank you so much for leaving that review and recapping how I have helped a stale world of accounting.

At the end of this episode, you’re going to want to make sure that you take a screenshot on your phone when you’re finished reading. Make sure to tag me and #TheAbundantAccountantPodcast and post it on LinkedIn. Make sure to post what is your biggest takeaway from the episode. What is the one thing that you’re going to put into action that will make a difference in your business? I’ll make sure to share it and put it on all of my other social media platforms, but make sure to include what’s your biggest takeaway from this episode. Now, let’s start the show.

In this episode, we’re talking about when to say no to clients. It’s about how to turn down clients that are unqualified. First, you have to do a good job at qualifying your clients to begin with. This is an important topic and one that I love talking about. If you’ve ever accepted a client who you didn’t think was a good fit, it’s probably because you were a little too desperate to get a new client, or you were probably a little scared to say no and turn them down.

You probably question whether you made the right choice or not. I’ve wondered a lot about this, and I’m sure others have, too, especially if you are in a service-based business like all of you. Readers, I know you have your accounting firm. You’re trying to grow your accounting firms. You’re trying to bring on the clients that you love instead of always taking on these clients called PITA. A lot of you have taught me about this word. What that stands for is a Pain In The Ass. When you have a PITA client, it’s not good for anybody, for you or for your staff if you have a staff. It’s typically not good for your sanity or your happiness. There are a lot of reasons why it’s not that good.

In this episode, I will explain the most common and easy ways to turn down an unqualified client in a way that won’t burn any bridges and will help both of you in the long run. If you’re in a service-based business like you are with your accounting firm and you sell services, then this is important because one bad apple can ruin it for yourself and your sanity. That is what we are talking about. Something I like to say a little bit of some Pitch Queen advice is, if someone is not a good fit for you or your business, you may need to let them go.

One bad apple in your team can ruin it for yourself and your sanity. Click To Tweet

It’s almost like the opposite of being professionally annoying. You’re being like a professional rejector in a way. This will not decrease your sales. It will increase your value and revenue. I know it’s hard to grasp right now, but read me out and read closely and take notes because it will pay off quite a bit. I will be giving some examples. The first step is to know when to say no. You might be wondering, “When do I say no to a client? When is it a time when I should maybe let them go?” It’s like, “How do you decipher when?”

When To Say No

That’s a great question. Here are some ways to think about when to say no. If your client is hesitant or not all in with you from the beginning, that is a good indication that it’s probably not going to be a good fit. If your client is not that motivated to achieve results, they say they want results but are not willing to do the work. Meaning, they’re not willing to give you tax returns in time. They’re not willing to respond to a text message or a phone call in time. They’re not willing to respond to an email in a timely fashion.

Anything that determines the motivation factor of working with you to achieve their results, not for you. This isn’t going to help you in the long run, it’ll help your top-line revenue, but we helping our clients, especially as accountants, is in your clients’ interest. It’s all about them. Maybe they want something too tailored and it’s outside of your comfort zone. I’ll give you an example of what that looks like.

Luke, one of the CPAs who I’ve worked with, will only take on clients who are willing to 1) Use QuickBooks online for their monthly services and business and how they operate. 2) He will only work with clients that will work with him on video, so he doesn’t meet with anybody in person one-on-one. 3) He only works with clients that will engage with him in a monthly service. Luke is not looking to work with people who want a one-time type option. They need a tax return done, some compliance work or whatever it may be.

He’s looking for monthly residual clients. If someone doesn’t fit some of those boundaries, then he gracefully lets them go or refers them out. Another indicator of when it’s time to say no is if a client wants too many discounts. They’re already starting to talk to you about how they want to pay less, how they’re looking for a deal or whatever it may be. When people start talking to me about that kind of stuff from the beginning, it’s a great opportunity at that point to let them go gracefully. I don’t even waste your time.

I’ve already wasted enough time for each of you reading that I can promise you nothing’s ever going to change. If someone starts talking about discounting rates, getting a better deal or anything like that from the get-go, it’s typically not going to shift. They’re not going to say, “I completely see your value.” They’re stuck in a certain mindset that probably won’t work for you. Another way you might know when it’s time to say no is that you believe the two of you aren’t a good fit. I know each of you likes happy clients or you love clients that have families, kiddos and you like to get to know their personal life.

Sometimes you might have a client that’s not willing to go there with you. If that’s that person, it’s best to let them go right away if you think that you’re not going to be a good fit from the beginning on a personal level. The other reason why it might be good to say no to a client is if you’re over-committed to yourself. You’re too busy. You’ve taken on too much work. You’ve said yes to many clients that now you’re not even able to truly engage with your clients and that you’ve taken on too much and now you’re too busy. That is the first step. It’s about knowing when to say no.

I’m going to share another little story. It’s about Iris. We were working together with this client. This client owned a trucking company. He would be in his truck going from East Coast to West Coast and West Coast to East Coast. He’s been a long-term client of Iris. He wanted to create a better accounting system for his business. He wanted to create a way to reduce the amount of taxes he was sending to Uncle Sam and some efficiencies in the business.

One of the things that Iris learned during this period of time is that the client wasn’t that receptive. She was chasing him, calling, emailing and no response. It was almost as if it was like that second thing I mentioned earlier, THE client wasn’t motivated enough to achieve the results that he was saying he wanted. I always say, “Actions speak louder than words.” I understand how hard it is to let go of people, but I also know the flip side and that you can generate much more revenue and love the clients that you work with.

What Iris had to do was send them an email saying, “It’s not going to be a good fit to work together.” These ideas I’m telling you of knowing when to say no are powerful. I’m here to help save you time, so you don’t have to test it out anymore. I’ve already done all the testing for you. Try 1 or 2 of those out. You can send me an email to let me know how they went. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at Hello@ThePitchQueen.com. Let me know what you try and what works.

How To Say No

Step number two in this process is to know how to say no. There’s always a graceful way to do things and a non-graceful way. One of the ways how to say no is you can’t let it drag on for too long. Even with the situation with Iris, it dragged on a little too long. She tried hard. I know that each of you truly wants to help all of your clients. I get it, but it’s like that saying, “You can bring the horse to the water, but you can’t make the horse drink the water.” It’s the same thing with our clients.

AA 017 | Setting Boundaries

Setting Boundaries: You can bring the horse to the water, but you can’t make the horse drink the water. This is the same thing when dealing with your clients.

If they’re not going to see the value in creating an efficient system, using QuickBooks online and saving more money in taxes, it’s up to that client. He’s got two months to make some big changes in his business. If he doesn’t, he’ll pay the penalty of $100,000 in taxes the next year and that’s totally fine, but we can’t be upset if our clients don’t respond to us. There’s nothing we can do.

I encourage each of you to think about which clients on your client roster or even on your outreach of new marketing that you’ve been doing have been dragging it on. Which ones are taking forever to get back to you? Those are the ones you want to cut the cord and say no to as soon as possible. I always go by the rule of thumb, “Always being transparent.” Tell them why you won’t be a good fit. What do you feel deep down in your heart that you’re just, “It isn’t going to be a good fit.”

I always say, “Honesty is the key.” Honesty will get you much further than making up stories. I know each of you doesn’t make up stories, but when we get busy and we have a pile of returns to do, payroll or the monthly accounting stuff, or maybe you’re doing some tax resolution work, whatever it is, we get busy, it’s hard to be transparent. Being transparent will increase revenue a lot and will get you a lot of great referrals too.

Being transparent will greatly increase revenue and get you many great referrals. Click To Tweet

One of the things when knowing how to say no is definitely referring out. Introducing them to someone else who may be a better fit. With the case with Iris and the trucking company, she put in two referrals that would’ve been a better fit whenever this guy surfaced. He’s going to realize that the year is now over and there’s a certain timeframe when sometimes things need to happen. As each of you knows, quarterly deadlines and other tax implications exist.

What Iris did was input two referrals in her email to the client so that they can have someone to contact. One of the things, after you say no to a client, you have to stick to your word to yourself. You can’t change your mind. It won’t work for you and for your client. Always introduce them to someone who may be a better fit, who might be taking on that lower value work per se, or who’s okay with dealing with people who don’t email them back, who don’t respond to their text messages on time or whatever it may be. There’s a gamut of reasons that resonate with you, and you have to choose a few that you can be transparent with to communicate to your clients.

Never To Burn A Bridge

The most important thing is never to burn a bridge. This client might be a good fit for Iris later. When the trucker keeps driving back from California to Florida and continues to pay an abundance and tax, there might be a day he has a wake-up call and he says, “I should work with Iris. I made a mistake.” This personally happened to me. There was a woman who was going to join a program. She said she couldn’t afford the monthly fees. It wasn’t affordable.

She realized about 2 or 3 months later that the case had changed and it was going to cost her more to not do this because if she doesn’t change the way she operates her business, she’s going to continue to be a little bit tired, miserable, or whatever it is for her. I don’t remember the exact reasons, but you never want to burn a bridge because people do come back. I believe timing in business and relationships are everything. Timing with how and when to say no to a client is extremely crucial and important. Keep that in mind.

Timing and relationships are everything in business. Knowing when and how to say no to a client is crucial. Click To Tweet

Step 3) Know why. There’s always a why behind it. Why do you need to say no? A few reasons why you might want to say no to a client, if you want to look at your client roster and your client list, you can go through it and say, “Who doesn’t and won’t see my true value? Who on my current client list doesn’t see my true value right now?” They don’t see it now and they never will in the future. Why don’t we let them go? It’s not worth it at the end of the day to keep them around it.

Also, doing this for each of you opens up space for clients that truly appreciate you, honor and respect you for what you do. That’s another reason why saying no is a good thing. I always say, “Why, when and how to say no is important because it opens up opportunities for the clients that you truly want to say yes to you.” We’re also clearing space. Let’s say you have 100 clients. You go through this exercise and understand that ten clients don’t see your true value.

You send them a letter saying, “Unfortunately, going forward, I don’t think we’re going to be a good fit to work together.” You’ve now created space for the possibility of maybe five new clients that see your true value and even maybe pay you a little bit more. Have you ever cleaned out your closet? I personally did that. I cleaned out my closet and I made space. When you make space, it creates clearing. I was reading this book about Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. It was good because one of them was about this clearing part. When we clear space, we can attract and bring in more clients that we truly want to work with and that we love.

AA 017 | Setting Boundaries

Setting Boundaries: When you clear space within your business, you can attract and bring in more clients you truly want to work with and love


Another reason why it’s a good idea to say no sometimes is you could get a bad apple and a bad apple is like the PITA client. It causes you to stress, maybe waste time, anger and all of that translate into your other clients. That’s not fair. Let’s say there are ten clients on your client roster and they’re all PITAs, it’s not fair for your other 90 clients if you have 100 that those 10 take up more energy than giving the good energy to the 90. For this reason, why we’re going to say no to some of your clients, you feel so much better. Your future clients and your next new ones will sense your value and worth at a greater level.

When you stick to these types of boundaries of what you won’t tolerate anymore, it creates space for amazing clients. Who wants to deal with a PITA client anyway? Do you want to call them pitta or Pita clients? I like pitta bread. One of my favorite snacks is hummus and pita or hummus and pita and veggies. It’s very delicious. I like to think of it in a food form.

I want you to think about one other thing. These are a couple of extra tips. When we’re dealing with consultations and you’re talking to like a brand new client, think about if you use the word if. Not like when we work together because when you’re talking to a new client, you’re thinking about, “Are they a good fit? Do I want to keep them around or do I want to send them on their merry way?” as much as they’re thinking if they want you to work with them.

“If we are to work together, or if I feel you’re a good fit to work with me, my staff and firm.” What if you didn’t start incorporating the word if on your brand-new clients? It’s not like maybe what you used to do, where you used to take on any and all clients and you used to give away a lot of free advice, answer everyone’s questions and these client meetings, what if we said, “If we were to work together.” Don’t let that person assume that you’re going to accept to work with everybody anymore.

If you work with everybody and you come across as you’re going to work with any client that comes your way, that sits in front of you at your desk, it lowers your value. Part of everything here at the show is about creating that life of abundance. How can we increase our value so our clients see that we are not only doing our stuff? I know a lot of you have MBAs, Master’s in Tax, a CPA or an EA. You’re educated, but our clients don’t value us. This is one of the ways that you can implement to start gaining that value and having your clients see it for them too.

Decline With Gratitude

One other amazing extra tip I have for you is to decline with gratitude. Thank them for something special that you see in them. Like with the trucker, he’s got an amazing business. An example of what you could say with Iris’s client, the trucker, “It’s been an honor to help and serve you for the last ten years. I’ve been grateful to have the opportunity to work with you, but right now, I’m making a shift in my business. One of the shifts is that I’m only working with clients who see my value and are trusting what I have to say and will call or email me back, and want to actively change these challenges that you’re having in your business to create more efficiencies and to save this money that I know I can save you.”

It’s like that saying, “It takes two to tango,” so in business. There’s a give and take in business. There are parts. In any of your accounting services, you can’t complete a tax return if the client doesn’t provide you their W-2s and everything else, especially on the business side. You can’t do anything for the business if they’re QuickBooks a mess and they haven’t organized anything. It takes literally two to tango in all of your services.

If at any point you don’t feel that you are tangoing with your partner, which is your client, then you’ve got a problem. It’s time to decline with gratitude. That’s an example of how I would gracefully decline in what Iris didn’t do. Now, this client will be in better hands, hopefully, in the future, get what they need and then they’ll come back in a year or two when they find out that, “I missed the boat. I see that Iris has a lot of value and knowledge that some other people don’t have.” Keep that in mind.

The last tip, and each of you I know is super smart, accounting, MBAs, CPAs and some of you are even tax attorneys. Position yourself as the expert. Remind yourself that the potential client sitting in front of you doesn’t know a whole lot of what you do. Maybe a whole lot of how you’re different. It’s your job to position yourself as the expert and also explain to them why you do what you do, why you’re the best, and incorporate that in there.

When you’re sitting with new clients, remember to use the ifs, “If we work together. If I feel you’re a good fit. If I feel that my firm can take you and your business on, once I go through the analysis and make sure that we are able to deliver on our promise,” and that you’re truly believing that this would be the best fit for you, that’s when you want to do that.

Look at your client roster. Go through it. See which ones are clients that maybe you need to sift through and decline gracefully so we can open up the opportunity how to attract these newer clients, then we also have some standards and boundaries in place. Evaluate every single client that you currently have and also evaluate every potential client that you’re going to be meeting with. Do you feel that these people are going to be a good fit for you?

There was another client I was talking, Lauren. She’s now working with clients who pay her upfront. A lot of clients don’t want to pay her upfront. If you’re going to have clients paying you in rears, that’s a great time to let some people go. If you’re changing your model where you don’t want to have any more accounts receivable, chase money and deal with all that nonsense, you can focus on providing and delivering an immaculate, perfect, awesome service, you can change your business model. However, you’re going to have a lot of people that you need to shift from paying after the fact to prepaying for a service, but it’s better for the client and you.

Go through your client roster. See what you can organize. You do have to set aside the time to do it. When you get new clients, you’re going to have a different aura around you. When we have a different aura, we’re able to attract the clients that we want and have that firm of abundance. Thank you so much for reading and joining me. It was an honor to be here with you.

Thank you so much for reading. If you have a quick second, please leave me a rating and a review on iTunes and subscribe to the show. I always like hearing from you. One last thing before I let you go. If you want to learn three proven strategies my accounting professional clients use to easily build their accounting practice with premium clients who eagerly pay them what you’re worth, then sign up for my free Masterclass at TheAbundantAccountant.com. You’ll learn how to communicate your value, collect higher fees with confidence, and be paid what you’re worth so you can work less, make more money, and have a life and clientele of abundance. I would love to see you there.


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