“No” Is Not a Bad Answer


As a sales team leader, how often have you heard one of your star performers describe the same opportunity over and over again? Meeting after meeting you hear about how this project or that order will close “very soon.” You continually press for an order date but face disappointment month after month. The agony drags on until finally you give up. No one talks about the opportunity anymore, and it just fades away.

Next time this happens, impress on the salesperson that “no” is often a good answer. It is almost always better than “maybe.” A great book on this subject, Start With No by Jim Camp, is a short read and worth your time.

The thinking goes along these lines. Tell me “yes” and we can get moving. We can start the order, everyone is happy, we are off and running, and life is good.

Tell me “no” and I can move on to other opportunities. I don’t have to add this to my follow-up file, the sales manager will stop asking me about it, I won’t waste any more time on it, and again, life is good.

But tell me nothing and I am left wondering. I get stuck in the never-ending cycle of calling back and meeting frustration. I hear responses like “I need to talk to (fill in the blank).” You, as my customer, don’t want to get my persistent calls and emails, and I sure don’t enjoy making those calls.

Refer to June 2015 issue; Fire that Prospect!

At the beginning of the process, get a commitment for a decision. That commitment may be just to have another meeting, or to write a proposal, or to sign the order. But get a commitment for a decision, because the ultimate goal of securing the order requires a building process based on a series of small decisions. Whenever someone gives you a “maybe,” this presents a problem that should be addressed immediately.

Ask your prospect before you begin: “Can we agree that when we finish talking and I have addressed all your questions, you will give me a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to move to the next step?” Furthermore, tell your prospect: “Your time is valuable, as is mine. Let’s not fall into the cycle of frustration that follow up-calls bring. I can handle a ‘no.’ “

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