Let’s face it, no one likes to hear “no”. Unfortunately, if you are in professional sales you hear “no” a whole lot more than “yes”. The reality is not everyone needs or wants what you have to offer. That is just the fact of life and business. Sometimes it’s “no”, for now and sometimes it’s “no” forever. Either way, most of us just don’t like to hear it.
So why does “no” bother us so much? Perhaps it’s because we work so hard to get conversations and meetings that when we have an engagement we want to maximize it and turn it into as many “yeses” as possible. Perhaps it’s because we don’t have enough other good options in our pipeline that look like this one and we fear letting it slip away. Or maybe, it’s the defiant child welling up inside of us shouting “who are you to tell me no!?” So we rebel. We try to convince. We happily share our knowledge and intellectual capital hoping to gain an edge. We hear things that aren’t said in the hopes that the deal will move in the direction we want or need it to go. Rather than accept the “no”, we chase the illusive “yes”.
Think for a second, is “no” really a bad thing? If a real and material problem does not exist and we help create one for the sake of a deal; will we have a good long term profitable client? Probably not. What if we spend a long time ignoring obvious objections and issues only to discover they are material roadblocks to your sale? How many times have we wasted precious time and ample energy chasing something that we could have ended long before we invested our valuable time and energy trying to create an opportunity?
One of my clients told me earlier this week that “prospecting is so much more relaxing if we are comfortable with “no”. She's right! The pressure goes away when we are comfortable accepting “no”. So how do we get comfortable with “no”?
Here some thoughts:
- Adjust your mindset: Tell yourself: “Some will, some won’t, so what, move on.” If we have that mindset we won’t be concerned if we are told “no” and we will actively look for others who will say “yes”.
- Increase your value: Time is money and we only have so much of it. Why invest it in someone who isn’t willing to invest in you. Put a value on your time and before you agree to invest it, get a firm commitment for a next step from your prospect.
- Give permission: Most people hate saying “no” as much as we hate hearing it. Tell your prospects it’s OK to say “no”. Let them know that your feelings won’t be hurt and asking you for information or a proposal just so they feel like they are letting you down easy is worse than a straight up “no”.
- Look for variables: “No” is not a reason to give up. It’s an invitation to learn more. Find out what is prompting the “no” and what conditions might have to change for it to become a “yes”.
- Reward yourself: Count your “no’s” not your “yeses”. With every “no” you are that much closer to a “yes” so, when you are prospecting and you get a “no”, celebrate it. You don’t have to wonder and hope. You can move on.
In professional sales “no” is a fact of life. When we fear it, we chase the “yes”, we try to convince and we put pressure on our prospects. Get comfortable with “no”. It takes the pressure off of you and your prospect and you just might find those “no’s” suddenly start to become “yeses”.