From No to Know13 Nov, 2008 By: David Ramos imageSource
From No to Know
To begin with, be aware that as much as "no" is at first a refusal, it's also an
opportunity -- one that many salespeople, new and veteran, fail to capitalize
on. When you're met with "no" as an answer, rather than trying to force it into
a "yes" or feeling bad and walking away, try asking questions. If you can find
out why, you'll be in a better position to garner a "yes" from your next
People have all sorts of reasons for not buying or giving an objection, and
you shouldn't take "no" personally. The more you can put your ego aside and
gracefully accept the refusal, the more you learn from the experience. So,
assume for the time being that you've been turned down and your business with
this person is done. Make it clear that you've accepted the reply. If you're no
longer trying to sell him, you and the buyer will be in a more neutral
territory, and you'll have easier time getting information that will help you.
Begin by saying that you appreciate the time he's given you and ask if he would
be willing to take just a few more minutes to talk about why he isn't
interested. Explain that the information will be helpful to you in your job and
you'd be thankful for the feedback.
You might not get a straight answer initially, because people are often
uncomfortable with having said no and want to get out of the situation as soon
as possible. They're likely to offer a pat answer about price or prior loyalty,
but if you probe a bit you might find your way to a more substantial reply.
Approaches That Lead to the Truth
"I realize price is an issue. If it weren't for the price what do you think
of my solution?" If they say they'd be interested, gather more information by
asking how they think their company would benefit from it.
"Might there be a time in the future when my solution will fit your budget or
is there something more than the cost involved?"
"I respect your loyalty to X Company, and I'm wondering if you can tell me
what sorts of things have inspired that loyalty. What do you like most about
doing business with them?"
"Is there something we could be offering that would make our solution more
attractive to a company like yours?"
What Did I Say?
A difficult question to ask, but a crucial one to find out whether there was
something in your presentation that the prospective buyer found off-putting.
Again, you'll want to indicate through your attitude that you aren't going to
fall into a fit or respond in rage. Attitude and tone are crucial here, and
unless you've established a friendly rapport, you may not be able to pull it
If the mood seems right, try saying, "I hope this isn't asking too much, but
was there anything I did that interfered with your decision?" You might want to
add, "This is what I do for a living, and it would really help me to know.
Even if there is something about your approach that blew the sale, keep a
professional attitude. No salesperson is perfect, and any approach can stand
improvement. Also, an approach that works for one customer does not necessarily
work for another -- this is just one person's opinion based on one interaction.
Gather as much information as possible and consider the criticism carefully.
Perhaps run it by colleagues and friends to see if they think it's well-founded.
But rather than letting it get you down, focus on how you can use it to improve
your approach. And remember, a problem with your presentation is not an
indictment of you as a person or a determination of your future in sales.
No Does Not Mean Never
When you're turned down, whether you're able to gather more information or not,
don't give a "no" more weight than it merits. If you find yourself panicking
that it's all you'll ever hear or that you'll never meet your quota, remind
yourself that it's just one sale. Every salesperson hears "no," and it's no
indication of how your next meeting will go.
And don't forget, if you field this "no" with finesse, the person who didn't
buy may be left with fond enough feelings to find a way to send future business
your way. Establish whether you can call on the prospect again in the future (be
specific about when, suggesting a time when the circumstance that led to the
"no" may have changed), and make sure your clients know that they can call you
When to Take No and Go
In some situations, you'd be better off letting "no" stand without
questioning it. If the person you've been dealing with has been a naysayer from
the start -- if he's been patronizing, prickly, or strikes you as pretty
imperceptive -- it's probably not worth pursuing his opinion. Solicit feedback
only from people you respect and who you sense will be honest and constructive
in their response.
Finding the Yes
If every cloud truly has a silver lining, your challenge as a sales executive
is to find the sliver of silver in every sale that slips away. If you set your
sights on what you can learn from each "no" and the sales it might lead to, who
knows, you might come to see "no" as an inspiring response and the seed for a
David Ramos is a consultant with Strategy Development, a leading management
and consulting firm in the channel. At