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Your Prospect Said No. Now what?

May 2, 2011

NO is a way of life for salespeople. If you are not hearing NO 30-50% of the time, than you are probably not speaking with enough customers.  How you handle the NO’s, and what you do after NO has a direct effect on how successful a sales career you have. Don’t get me wrong. I do not believe that you have to be a pest and not here NO to be a successful salesperson. I do believe that it may take multiple times of contact to get to yes. I do believe that there is a system to those touches. There are to many barriers today for the just following up routine of many sales people to be effective. Let’s first say, there can be many ways to say NO, and it happens at different times during the Sales Process.

  1. No to getting an appointment
  2. No, we are satisfied with our present supplier.
  3. No, it is not in our budget.
  4. No, we are not interested.
  5. No, your price is too high.
  6. Maybe, which is really no because they do not want to actually go through listening you go through your sales pitch again. I have often told prospects that yes is the best answer, no is the second best answer, and maybe just stinks.

In each case do you continue to sell or do you just accept it, and say there are enough fish in the sea? NEXT! Do you have a system in place to continue working with the prospect and eventually get to yes? For the sake of brevity, let’s just address the NO in general.

Why do they Say NO so quickly?

There obviously has been no connection established or basis to possibly do business. The sales person has not established credibility as an authority or a resource, who someone wants to talk too. Realize that for many prospects saying NO is also difficult. They absolutely dread the sales rebuttal so don’t put them in that position. A prospect may get even more defensive, and protective of their decision. Or, Instead they may say call me back in such and such a time. You follow up and because they could not say no, they just don’t answer the phone.

What to do after they say NO?

Above all keep positive, it’s all part of the game. Don’t take yourself to seriously, it will not be written on your gravestone that someone said NO to you in May 2011. DO empathize with their NO position. Compliment them on making a decision. Tell them how you appreciate their openness and honesty, and ask them one more question, which is purposeful and very respective of their position. DO NOT re-state any of the perceived benefits. Here are some ideas for questions:

  1. Just out of curiosity, if you do not mind, what key benefits do you see in dealing with your present supplier?
  2. Looking into the future, what benefits of our service or product would you consider in doing business with us?
  3. Just ask “What benefits stated rang true to them from what was discussed?”
  4. Is there any information I did not provide, which may have helped you make the decision in my company’s favor: i.e. testimonials, service guarantees, pricing terms, etc.
  5. Set a definitive time when you can contact them to provide information about new developments, updates in the industry, or events that may be of interest to them.
  6. NEVER let more than 3 months go by without contact. Big or small, situations change.

How do I get less NO’s?

  1. Before you even start a conversation make sure that there is some connection between you and the prospect from an industry source, competitor, or a business contact. You do not want them asking where you got my name from.
  2. Establish yourself as a resource first by either sending some useful information to them first and then requesting a discussion or meeting and a definitive time that you will call them to set an appointment. You want to understand more about their business.
  3. Stop calling just to follow-up. Each message should be something purposeful.
    a. New product or development.
    b. Industry News
    c. PR on their company, or competition that you may be working with (but not company secrets).
  4. Always stay upbeat with a good sense of humor.

You may have some other or better ideas on how to handle NO.  I would enjoy hearing your comments.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2011 12:07 pm

    Hi Allan,

    I thought this was a very good blog today. All of us sales people need to get over ourselves and realize that timing is also very important and as much as we want to believe that we control all aspects of the process, luck does play a part. Having a system to catalog and make contact at a more relevant time in the business cycle makes each “no” valuable. All of that said, sometimes we just need to turn the page and move on.

    • May 2, 2011 9:04 pm

      Thanks for commenting Tony. Remember even when it’s time to move on, find ways to periodically keep in touch.

  2. May 2, 2011 7:48 pm

    Thanks again. It was perfect timing for me.


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