With apologies to Elton John, “no” seems to be the hardest word, especially when you’re in the sales game. But contrary to the dictionary definition, “no” isn’t necessarily a negative.
We’ll explain that seemingly ridiculous statement in a sec. But first, three pieces of hard reality:
- Most of the time, prospects will tell you “no.”
- Some of the time, you’ll get lucky with an early “yes.”
- In most cases, getting a “yes” is the result of considerable work.
Now, the good news: Yeses often result from several nos. It’s our pleasure to tell you how that, and a better response rate, can happen.
Your first and most important task is to learn exactly what your prospect said “no” to
Use every “no” as a way to create a “yes” with a future account. When someone turns you down, say, “Respectfully, I’d like to know why.”
Say your job is to sell a new pretzel product to a chain grocery, but the buyer isn’t buying. When you ask why, your objective is not to convert the “no” to a “yes,” but to learn enough about what wasn’t appealing to the prospect. Be sure to say so right away to ease the non-buyer into a friendly conversation. You must make it clear that you’re open to constructive, honest criticism.
The answer will prepare you for the next sales call. Now you can anticipate the concerns at your next appointment and craft your pitch accordingly. Better still, you also can target customers who are more likely to say “yes.”
The effect will be an improved favorable rate of response. If you get eight “nos” from ten sales calls and you don’t ask why, you aren’t going to improve your odds with the next ten.
Understand the motivation behind the NO
Sometimes there’s absolutely nothing wrong with what you’re selling – it’s simply the prospect that’s the problem.
Understand the various dynamics that might work against you. If you’re trying to sell to someone in a corporate environment, right from the git you’re dealing with someone who’s risk-averse. This person likes to stick with what’s already working. In her mind, she can do more harm than good by saying yes. Her company already has reputable vendors filling its needs, and she doesn’t want to rock the boat. It’s just easier to say no. Anticipate that reaction, and prepare your sales pitch to meet it.
Emotional rejection? Forget about it
None of us likes rejection, but in sales, it’s nothing personal. You’re a nice person, you don’t smell – let’s take this much for granted – so how can it be personal?
When someone says no to your pitch, it’s easy to feel personally rejected, no matter how many times you may hear the word during the course of the day.
To get over this (and you do have to get over it), the smartest thing you can do is expect a negative response. Understand that most “nos” and only some “yeses” offer the insights that lead to success. You’re fighting a campaign of small battles in a much bigger war. Focus on winning the war. You will prevail.
Our Bottom Line
Odds are higher that you won’t make a sale immediately. It will take considerable work, time and effort to exchange information, and learn. Be prepared for the process so you can approach each day with confidence and enthusiasm .