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Stop taking it personally! Why ‘no’ doesn’t mean the end to your sales strategy


No! It can be the most powerful word in the world. If you’re a parent you know its impact on a child, and how it feels when that word is turned back on you!

For many salespeople, especially newbies, they expect that new prospects will want to work with them. They know they’re a good person (their mum told them so), they believe in their product (otherwise they wouldn’t be selling it), and they know they’ve got sales targets. Surely, everyone is on the same page, right?

So, when they’re told no, they take it personally.

Everyone is confronted with rejection, even from people we love and whom love us. People disagree with us, fail to listen, misunderstandings occur; most of the time we rub some dirt on it and move on.

Yet for some reason, when it comes to selling and prospecting, folks often give up before they even try.

Did you know:

  • Over 50% of sales people give up at the first contact if they get a no, never returning to that prospect.
  • At the fifth contact made with a prospect, 7% of sales people remain.
  • At the eighth contact there’s only one salesperson left with the prospect (hopefully it’s you.)

As the data show, the overwhelming majority of sales peeps fail to persist or even position themselves favourably for future contact. In doing so they limit their sales opportunities even further.

In order to gain a steady stream of sales, a mix of prospecting activities must take place each day. Sometimes you’ll strike viable and engaged prospects, other days it’ll be one disinterested recipient after another. It’s important to understand that not everyone on your hit-list is ready to buy then and there, and to leave the door wide open should they have a change of heart.

What to do when you get a big, fat no

Rather than getting upset. taking it personally or having it stifle your confidence, here’s a checklist of possible reasons prospects won’t commit right that very second:

  • They don’t have a need right now. In which case, find out when they may have a need and call back then.
  • They don’t fit your target market. Move on, but not before asking whether they know someone who may be.
  • They have other associations or commitments. If they’re worth pursing, find out where you can get in.
  • They’re not convinced they need you. Check your approach and how clearly you’re communicating your message.

Building business through selling is all about not giving up at the first obstacle. Or the second. And so on.

Remember, if you make contact with someone, be sure to leave a favourable impression. Ensure they felt it was worthwhile speaking to you even if they don’t fit your target market; they could still be a useful contact to have.

Before signing off, it’s worthwhile asking if you can do the following:

  • Send information for their review.
  • Follow up at a future date.
  • Keep in touch in case their current suppliers can’t support them in the future.
  • Ask for a referral.

Remember, successful prospecting and selling is about choosing the right state of mind. Successful salespeople know that results don’t happen by chance; it requires persistent effort.

The most successful sales folk do the following each and every day:

  • Diarise follow up calls
  • Use CRM to track activity
  • Keep a number of activities on the go
  • Prioritise
  • Persist

Are you doing these things? If not, try it out and see how your results improve.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Sue Barrett is a sales expert, business speaker, adviser, sales facilitator and entrepreneur and founded Barrett Consulting to provide expert sales consulting, sales training, sales coaching and assessments. Visit www.barrett.com.au