When should I go for the ‘no’ in sales?

Sales image by Michael GiuffridaOne of the most difficult things for many sales people to hear is ‘no’.  It means that all of the work you have put in to gaining this sale so far is wasted and you need to move on.  The part that many don’t realize is how freeing it can be to finally get the ‘no’ so that you can focus on other prospects that may actually give you business.  So when should you go for the ‘no’ to gain this freedom?

If you are following a sales process, you likely have phases of the sale that you move a prospect through.  If you have gotten all the way to proposal delivery, the prospect is now in the drivers seat.  They have received everything from you that they need to make a decision, or not.  If the sales process stalls at this point, it can be very frustrating for even a seasoned sales person. Depending upon how much pain you were able to develop early in the process, you can sometimes bring them back to the reality of that pain to move a decision.  If they haven’t already made one.  Often, if a proposal is sitting out there for a long time, you have already lost the sale and you are the only one who doesn’t know it yet.

If you find yourself in this type of situation, there is no harm in simply asking.  In a nurturing way, approach the prospect one last time.  But this time, instead of trying to get the signed contract, simply tell them, “I’m guessing that you have already decided not to do business with me but since we built a good rapport you just don’t want to tell me.  Its OK if we don’t do business together now, maybe we can some day in the future.  Just please let me know so I can close this out of my pipeline and move on to some other prospects that I have.”  You have now made it OK for them to say no to you if that is what they were going to do anyway.

One of two things can happen at this point. Either you get the ‘no’ you asked for and you can move on, or it could reinvigorate the process because they will feel bad for dragging it out.  Either way, you win!

Michael Giuffrida from Southington CT has been operating businesses since 1997.  He is an experienced entrepreneur in business management, profitable growth, business valuation, mergers and acquisitions, and information technology managed services.

1 thought on “When should I go for the ‘no’ in sales?

  • Mike – Great post! I encounter this all of the time. Continually following up with prospects who won’t just say no. It’s one of the hardest things in sales. I like your approach and will use it in the future.

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