Steve Trimberger explained to me a client engagement technique which I appreciated. Our discussion stemmed from a mutual desire as engineers to be honest to our science, while at the same time allowing our businesses to thrive.
When a potential client volleys a challenge that strays from your centerline, instead of a tacit “No”, offer up “How”. There is a spectrum of how. Perhaps how is a development effort unaligned with your current world view? Perhaps how is a story that you tell with some embarrassment?
This is consistent with the Happy Mistakes meme in that allows you extract information from a scenario that would otherwise be a dead end. It is especially useful if, in telling the story, you do measure some embarrassment, and you now have voice-of-the-customer feedback to guide you forward. Of course, "How" may also lead you down a path that turns a "No" to a "Yes".