In Sales, No Is Actually a Fantastic Answer!
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In Sales, No Is Actually a Fantastic Answer!

In Sales, No Is Actually a Fantastic Answer!

As a salesperson, of course you want to hear yes, and you’re a little afraid of no. No is failure. Who wants to fail? Certainly not me. The fear of failure, though, causes you as a salesperson to play small. You don’t ask the questions you need to ask because you’re afraid of no.

No is actually a fantastic answer. When you hear it, it frees you up to focus on a prospect and do the work that can lead to a yes later on.

But what about hearing maybe? Too many of us love maybe because it isn’t an outright rejection. It isn’t no. And prospective clients can feel better when they say maybe. Why? Because they can tell themselves, “At least I didn’t say no.”

Chances are your prospects like you. You have good people skills and something worthwhile to offer, plus you have spent time with them. So maybe they say maybe to not hurt your feelings.

Everybody might feel better because they got to maybe instead of no. But if you get to maybe, all you really got was a colossal waste of time. An amazing amount of time and productivity are wasted, simply because people try to get to maybe.

Ask tough questions early

Here’s the point. Ask the tough questions and bring up the tough issues early, and don’t be afraid. Getting to an early no (and of course, an early yes) is preferable in every way to investing too much time to only arrive at maybe. Here are some of the tough questions to ask.

“Do you know how much work this is going to be?” Give prospects a realistic understanding of your brand’s expectations of them, and what the work will be like every day if they buy what you are selling. While discussing these issues might not be fun, it’s better to do it sooner, rather than later. And it offers a more time-efficient way to sell.

“Have we discussed how much this is going to cost?” Many salespeople don’t like to talk about money at the beginning of a sales effort. They assume it’s better to sell prospects on the concept first and then talk about the cost. But how much sense does that make? If you talk about money at the beginning and they don’t have enough, you can get to no really quickly. It doesn’t matter how much they love your concept if they can’t afford to buy it.

“Do you have the people, technology, and other resources to successfully implement what we are talking about?” Many salespeople avoid asking questions like this because they are afraid of killing a sale before it has gotten due consideration. But stop and think. Any prospect at some point is going to think about those issues. You don’t want to hear at the last minute, “We’re sold on what you’re offering, but we lack the ability to do it.” You want to hear about those problems early so you can address them, solve them, or get to that early no.

And remember… 

No is also not always no. It often is an opportunity to start a new conversation and overcome objections you might not hear otherwise. Many times, in my experience, no is the start of a valuable conversation. If you hear no, start digging into the issues at hand. Be careful though: If the no is really a no, let it stand.

So stop and review your sales process. Are there questions in it that you put off because you’re afraid of turning off a prospect?

My advice: Move those tough questions up front. If you’re going to disqualify a customer, it’s best to do it early. You don’t have to wait until the fourth or fifth conversation to get into the more difficult questions. You can ask them in your first conversation.

And, like everything, this is a skill you must learn and practice.

Evan Hackel, a 35-year franchising veteran, is CEO of Tortal Training, a leading training development company, and principal and founder of Ingage Consulting. He is a speaker, author of Ingaging Leadership, and host of “Training Unleashed,” a podcast covering training for business. Contact him at, follow him at @ehackel, or call 781-820-7609.

Published: February 1st, 2022

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