Moments before writing this blog, I received a call from a company who was looking for an investment from me. The deal sounded good but it wasn’t the right deal for me right now. I told them “no thanks” and the guy thanked me and we hung up.
I sort of felt bad for the guy… because I’ve sat in his chair. I’ve talked to prospects and wanted them to buy whatever I was selling and they said no. It was like being punched in the gut, when all the air goes out of you. Sure, they didn’t mean their “no” to punch you in the gut but it does, and it takes all of your willpower to maintain your composure and stay positive.
The high points of my sales experiences have been when I rewired my brain to ENJOY hearing “no”… when I fell in love with “no” and even learned to look forward to it.
CAN “NO” BE A GOOD THING?
I believe “no” can be good for a few reasons…
First, a “no” is a way for people to self-qualify them out of your service. They might not have the need you think they have, or they might not be willing to pay what you are charging. Therefore, hearing “no” from them is great because you wouldn’t want them as customers in the first place!
Second, a “no” doesn’t mean that you erase all of the work you’ve done. If your selling effort up to that point was some other kind of project, you wouldn’t just scrap it all and start over! You can reuse a variety of elements — lessons learned, presentations, refined skills.
Third, a “no” doesn’t mean “I never ever want to do business with you”. (Well, it usually doesn’t mean that). 99% of the time it means “this isn’t right for me right now”. There have been MANY times that I’ve been reminded of this lesson when I’ve pitched something, forgotten about the pitch because it was so old, and suddenly the person calls me up to do business. Awesome! Instead, that effort that you put in was just a seed that planted… and some seeds take longer to sprout.
Fourth (and this one is my favorite) a “no” is just a stepping stone to a “yes”. In Tom Hopkins’ book How to Master the Art of Selling (page 86 and 87 of my well-thumbed, always-within-reach copy), he suggests that sales people have to hear a bunch of “no” before we get to a “yes”. And then he gives an example, which I’m going to paraphrase: If you have a 10% closing ratio and you sell a product worth $100 then that means every single response, whether no or yes, is worth $10. As Mr. Hopkins puts it, “you are not paid by the sale, you are paid by the contact.”
Those four facts changed the game for me and enabled me to sell even though I faced “no” more than I wanted to hear.
NOT JUST FOR OUR TRADITIONAL DEFINITIONS OF SELLING
This truth doesn’t just apply to the type of telephone selling or face-to-face selling I’ve referenced above. It’s true for you no matter what you sell and how you sell it. And it’s not just the prospect-to-customer sale, either, but it will be true for people who are selling again to previous customers.
I write a lot of proposals (I LOVE proposals!) for magazine articles and joint ventures and projects with prospects and clients. Not all of those proposals get accepted or even responded to. They are active or passive “no’s”.
Even web traffic on your site that arrives but clicks away before buying is a type of “no”. Don’t get discouraged by it… many other people would LOVE to have that traffic on their site but you have it on your site.
REWIRE YOUR BRAIN TO LOVE NO
Earlier in the post I listed 4 ways that “no” can be redefined so that the gut-wrenching negativity is wrung out and instead, “no” becomes a constructive and even positive thing. You should always go into every sale hoping for a yes and believing that you’ll get it but now you can look forward to the outcome of every sale regardless of what the prospect says.