Sellers have all heard that they should expect to hear many more ‘no’s’ than ‘yes’s’ and to not let that get them down or deter them. Some sellers even work with the mantra: ‘A no gets you one step closer to a yes.’ Although both sayings are over used, they’re meant to help sellers keep perspective and remain positive. Problem is that doesn’t always work.
Why not? Sellers are human, with egos, emotions and needs. In truth, no seller will ever close a sale with every prospect they meet. Every seller knows that, yet still they hope to! It’s that undying hope that gets squashed when the response is ‘no’.
Here are some pointers and beliefs I’ve shared with direct reports to help them keep a level head and not waiver in their mindset about their capabilities, products, company, etc.
While I know that I can help every business owner with whom I speak, I tell myself that roughly 95% of them aren’t ready to work with me for various reasons. This belief allows me to remain confident and have great conversations with everyone because my expectations are that I’ll have to speak with many owners to find the few that will become clients. I’m okay with that.
The goal in sales is to have every meeting come to a close with a decision being made. A prospect that tells you ‘no’ is making a decision! It’s so much better to get a ‘no’ than ‘call me in two weeks’, or any other stall tactic. When sellers accept the latter response, they’re just kidding themselves. The client has taken control and will likely become hard to reach the second after you leave their office. Adopt the best practice of understanding that ‘no’ is a likely outcome and craft questions that help you discover if that’s going to be the case sooner rather than later.
Know how valuable your and your team’s time is. It’s far better for sellers to spend their time pursuing qualified prospects than to waste it playing cat and mouse with those that aren’t. Internalize this and appreciate your worth. What’s the lowest sale amount you’ll get out of bed for each morning? Stick to that number and you’ll find that you’ll start asking for and earning larger shares of business and you’ll stop spending time with less-than-ideal prospects.
Understand exactly who your ideal customer is. This keeps you grounded and allows you to ascertain whether a prospect is worth the time, energy and resources it will take to service them. While we all like to make a sale, sometimes the sale is too small. Let’s not get so caught up in closing a deal that we lose sight of when it makes sense not to work with certain prospects.
Have two or three rebuttal questions ready when you do hear ‘no’. This will help you discover where you may have missed something important. Tone and authenticity are critical. Two that have worked well for me are: a) ‘I’m sorry that we won’t be working together, please help me understand what I missed.’ b) ‘What’s missing in my proposal that your answer can’t be ‘yes’ today?’ With both I take responsibility, which makes them feel more at ease and they typically share more information that may lead to new discoveries and allows me to accomplish the following point.
Always keep the door open for future conversations, even if it’s only open a tiny crack. Ask for permission to stay in touch with them periodically and ask how often would be okay with them. If you have a newsletter, ask for their permission to include them on your distribution list. Connect with them on LinkedIn and let them see others in your network. At the very least, check back in with them once per quarter. Something changes in their business every 60-90 days and you want to be nearby when they need help. They’ll reach out to those they know first, make sure you’re on that short list.
When you believe in yourself, the value of what you offer and the problems your product will solve, you’ll begin to realize the beauty of the word ‘no’ and how freeing it can be to get that decisive conclusion.