Why the Word “No” Can Be Your Best Friend in Sales

Written by Andy Baumgartner on December 10, 2015

Posted in Lead Generation


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When you first get into a sales role, one of the things you hear on a regular basis is, “Get used to hearing ‘No’ a lot.” That statement always has a negative connotation to it, but why? If hearing the word “No” is so negative, then why are we in the sales business to begin with? “No” doesn’t always have to mean the end of a conversation. It can even lead to further exploration into a client’s needs that sometimes they might not even know they have.

Here are just a few reasons why hearing (and using) the word “No” can actually be extremely useful in helping you close more deals:

1. Understanding why they said “No” in the first place


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You’ve gotten to know your lead or prospect a little bit: job role, company needs, pain points (and sometimes in my case: family, where they are going on vacation, weekend plans, etc). You think you’ve got the perfect solution for them, but then you hear,“I just don’t think this is really what I need.” So now what? Some people argue, others thank them for their time as well and move on, but how many ask “Why?” That simple question can do one of two things. It can get them to open up about their reasoning, or it can get them to reiterate the no. (There is the chance that the third option is them hanging up on you, but you’re in sales and you’re used to that.)

Asking why they said no can give you a little more information that might help you not only overcome more objections, but pass the feedback to your product and marketing teams so they can better understand the people you’re talking to.

2. Using the “No” to relate with them


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I once reached out to a woman on a cold call about our product and its attribution capabilities. She kindly responded back that they don’t have a need for us, as they currently use an all-in-one solution (note: that we integrate with) and thanked me for reaching out. I ended up relating to her and telling her that it was great that she was using that product. However, I also offered her a few use cases of how current customers were using Formstack in conjunction with that product. Here was her response:

Huge points for a great, informative, non-pushy, tailored response. We’re actually really happy with our forms and conversation rate, but I really do appreciate you taking the time to quote other users’ thoughts. We’re still good but definite kudos on the best ‘pitch’ & follow-up I’ve read in a long time.”

The follow up to the “No” doesn’t have to be abrasive or full of pushy sales jargon. It can be nice, relatable, and understanding of why they said no in the first place. (Note: This lead has already referred three people over to me from that email response!)

3. Don’t be afraid to use “No” yourself

Sales is a high-pressure gig. Not high-pressure like a fireman, police officer, or astronaut, but it can be intense nonetheless. Most sales positions are commission-based, so that pressure of “getting the sale no matter what” can put blinders on your lead. Sometimes, you may not realize that the person in front of you or on the other line is just not a good fit. Much like when people say they can tell if they are going to buy from you within the first five minutes, you should understand if they aren’t a fit in about the same amount of time. It’s okay to say “No” to a potential customer.

Whether it’s a cold call and it turns out the company isn’t a fit, or a lead that came in from your website that may not have understood what your product is, it’s okay to tell someone “I don’t think we’d be a good fit for you.” Not only does this make you seem like less of a pushy salesperson, but you’re also showing that person you’re listening and understanding their company, which in the end could lead to referrals (if you ask for them).

“No” is not a death sentence for your sale. It is a finality for some when it comes to that particular conversation, but a “no” can open up more doors than closes. I talk to hundreds of people looking to improve their businesses, and sometimes there is miscommunication. Just understand that if you ask the right questions and make sure that you are both on the same page as to why a “No” is there, it can ultimately be beneficial to you both.