Updated: Feb 29, 2020
From time to time a sales leader will tell me, “I want my salespeople to not take no for an answer.” When I probe further, they usually mean one of the following:
1. They don’t literally mean it. They are feeling that their team could use more tenacity and are often too soft in their approach and negotiations. It’s like saying they’re hoping for more of a “take no prisoners” attitude, which certainly isn’t meant literally either.
2. They literally mean it. Their hope is that when their salespeople are told no (after the entire sales process and discussing potential objections), they can learn a strong response that involves not giving up until theoretically the prospect submits and buys.
Before I get to a better alternative approach, let’s back up a minute and look at 2 important points:
1. Being told no is one of the most important aspects of being highly successful at sales. Elite salespeople are told no consistently and often. When salespeople aren’t, they’re typically not trying hard enough, often enough, and or big enough. One must fail to succeed to be great at sales.
2. Let’s flip things and put the shoe on OUR foot. Picture that you are being sold to, and after logical consideration, you feel that there is a better option and tell a salesperson no. How would/do you feel when they respond with not accepting that? How do you like them telling you that your no does not mean no and that they don’t respect your decision?
Recently after telling a salesperson no, they responded with “Why?” I politely declined to answer as I have gone down that road too many times as a buyer. After considering all options laid out to me and making what I believed to be the best decision for my company, I found it a bit insulting for someone outside of my organization to then question it. So what was my problem? I would describe my experiences of allowing post no discussions as badgering and in some cases, even bullying. Maybe I was feeling more sensitive than most having been in sales one way or another for my entire career. It was too late at that point and not taking no for an answer is one of the reasons that many people don’t like and don’t trust salespeople. It’s desperate and follows the anything just to get the sale mentality. There is a much more successful (and respectful) option.
The Best Approach
No means no. At least until a future opportunity to revisit things with them again. Which by the way, is very unlikely if they feel that the salesperson just won’t take no for an answer. Who wants to meet with that person again? What we want to do is, focus the tenacity of not taking no for an answer on every aspect of the sales process PRIOR to their answer. If we still have good and justifiable arguments after they have said no, then WE have failed, not the prospect. The best approach is to be great at all aspects of the sales process/interactions. Concern ourselves with finding the best result for the prospect, above our sale. Succeed at identify and delivering on all of their wants, needs and concerns. Anticipate all potential objections and answer them during our discussions (and ideally before they even come up). And present to them a strong, no-brainer case for them to work with us. That’s a simplified description, but it’s all we can (and should) do. That is what elite salespeople do. They are told yes often because they are so good from the beginning to the end of the process and DON’T NEED TO try and change someone’s mind AFTER their decision. They successfully guide them to making it in the first place. And when the no’s inevitably come, it’s an easy shoulder shrug and on to the next. They already did all that they can do, which will close the next deal shortly.