Column: ‘No’ can be the best answer


Commentary by Jack Klemeyer


When in sales or discerning whether or not to take on commitments, it might just be best to say or hear a solid, “No.”

However, when engaged in selling, it seems hearing the dreaded word “No” from a prospect or customer is the one thing everyone wants to avoid. In fact, the fear of “No” can be so great that it prevents salespeople from asking for the sale, or worse, to avoid making calls altogether. This is one of the reasons sales call reluctance can be so devastating to a salesperson and their company. Yes, sales call reluctance is a very real thing that can make or break a career or company.

In their great little book titled “Go for No,” Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz point to the fact that many salespeople actually say “No” before the prospect does. Obviously, this habit will limit sales and a person’s sales success. Fenton and Waltz suggest that a salesperson make a goal of getting a pre-determined number of “Noes” in a day or calling period. This transforms the fear of hearing “No” into a reward of sorts so that the sales person keeps asking until they achieve the number of refusals or “Noes” they set as a goal.

It has been proven time and time again that if you ask enough people for a sale, you will eventually find someone who will say, “Yes.” This little game of going for “No” keeps the salesperson in the asking mode and almost makes it certain that a yes or two will find their way into the mix. Most beginning salespeople give up or drastically slow down their prospecting efforts (a fancy way to say asking) because they are afraid of the word no.

The late David Sandler, sales trainer extraordinaire, explained in his book, “You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar,” that salespeople and prospects should agree to one thing regarding a sales call. He said it is OK for a prospect to tell him “No” and it’s OK for a prospect to say, “Yes.” But it is not acceptable to spend time together and then have a prospect say, “I’ve got to think it over.”

So, while you think over that bit of sales advice, consider furthering your personal growth by investing in either, or both, of the books I have referenced in this article. Educating yourself and then implementing and practicing what you learn is the best way to make tangible changes to improve your results.


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