When “No” Is the Best Answer

“No” can be the starting point of the biggest sale of your career. Experienced and successful sales professionals know that “No” should not be confused with “Never”. “No” can mean that this is not the time to ask for the sale. “No” can mean that you are talking to the wrong person. After doing some homework to verify who can impact the sale and give the green light (that could involve more than one person), you may ask to speak with the real decision-maker, who will advocate for you and also re-allocate the budget if necessary, and you will strike it rich.

Rejection is a part of life and it is most certainly part of sales and entrepreneurship. Rejection is a challenge. In Mandarin Chinese, the same character represents crisis and opportunity. Resilient people — and I know that you are resilient, or you would not be a Freelance consultant — use a crisis to:

  • Re-examine the proposed value-added of your product or service
  • Reevaluate the competitive landscape
  • Refine your sales pitch
  • Re-engineer yourself to become more competitive
  • Re-approach that rejecting client and others as well
“No” can make us improve ourselves and become more relevant to prospective clients, now armed with a better message and better value proposition, or perhaps even an upgraded or more specifically tailored service or product. Try these tactics the next time rejection rattles you:
While it is a natural response to counter prospect objections, one would be advised to listen well. Is that prospect doing you the enormous favor of telling you how to re-shape, re-position or at least better describe your product or service?  Try to curb the reflexive defensiveness that every human has and listen with an open mind. What weaknesses are being pointed out to you?
Objections are not always rooted in misunderstanding or hostility. Learning the ways in which your product or service does not measure up is the most valuable information that can be presented to you.  After giving your perspective on the merits of the offering in question,  honor the client’s perspective as you do yourself  a favor and ask more questions about the preferred outcomes and what changes would perhaps be helpful.
The negative feedback that you receive is just one person’s opinion or the report of a single experience.  Nevertheless, listen and do your best to be objective about what has been revealed to you. Some or all of the negative report may be accurate.  Separate the probably relevant aspects from what may be unreasonable or unfixable. Here begins your list of action items.
After you’ve heard the complaints, thank your prospect for his/her candor. Hearing the truth is always a good thing, even when it hurts. On the spot, think of improvements or adjustments that can be made quickly and inexpensively (If it appears that might be possible). Has the prospect made suggestions that you can incorporate?
After you’ve reviewed what transpired a couple of times, you may decide that revisions need to be made in your services or products; business model; operations process; sales distribution; quality control; or marketing message. Before institution any permanent changes, do speak with other clients and assess their experiences when doing business with you. Are you hearing similar complaints,  or wish-list type of suggestions that clients had not previously revealed to you?
If common themes emerge, then changes are definitely in order. Draw up a list of recommended upgrades or alterations so that you can take the full measure of what needs to change. Which changes be made quickly? Which can be expected to have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction or billable hours?  Create a budget and time-table and then prioritize the tasks and if budget allows, perform first those that will have the greatest potential for positive impact.
Freelance consultants, entrepreneurs and sales professionals will face rejection for the entirety of our careers. In order to withstand the ongoing assault,  we must believe in ourselves, in our abilities and in our products and services. Yet over-confidence is not useful and is not a true indicator of resilience.  The ability to hear and accept occasionally painful truths and the courage to re-vamp, re-group, move on and succeed are the attributes that distinguish the winners among us.
Thanks for reading,

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