What To Do When a Sales Prospect Says No

What To Do When a Sales Prospect Says No
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When a Sales Prospect Says No
Most sales managers teach their salespeople to be persistent. However, salespeople are human, and when a sales prospect says no — to a sales meeting, to a demo, or to the sale itself — they may be tempted to think that “no means no” and stop or delay pursuing their ideal target client.

That’s natural, but it isn’t necessarily the right thing to do if you want to grow sales and help your clients succeed. In fact, behavioral research highlighted by our microlearning experts indicates that you shouldn’t always accept a prospect’s initial refusal. There’s another, and often more successful, approach from our sales playbook to when a sales prospect says no during the sales process.

A Research Study
The experimental research took place at Stanford University. The idea of the study was to determine how likely people are to say “yes” to a second request after they’ve said “no” to a first.

The results from a solution selling were surprising. Those who said “no” to a first request were not predisposed to say “no” to a follow-up request.

An Aversion to Negativity
According to the study, when you persist, people are just as likely to say “yes” as “no” because of a powerful psychological effect that makes it hard for people to be negative all the time. Most of us just aren’t comfortable being perceived as somebody who always says “no.”

The experiment also turned up another fascinating effect, this one in the mind of the person seeking the favor — the position you’re in when you’re selling. The data showed that requesters were 37% more likely to expect a second “no” than potential helpers were to say it. In other words, for most salespeople, the fear of a second “no” is irrationally high.

So, the research shows that prospects who initially say “no” may say “yes” on a second effort simply because repeatedly shutting the door in your face makes them feel bad.  While we do not want you to badger prospective clients, the research results hopefully encourage you to continually add value and be persistent during the sales process.

Your Next Moves
What do you do when that initial “no” unexpectedly turns into a follow-up “yes”? You want to be as graceful as possible to make sure you don’t spoil this new opportunity. Here’s a three-step approach:

  1. Empathize
    Acknowledge the person’s discomfort about saying “no.” For example, “I understand that you’re busy and didn’t see the value when I last reached out, but I appreciate your taking this call.”
  2. Ask an Unexpected Question to Show You’ve Done Your Homework
    This takes the prospect away from the “still-not-interested” script they likely have mapped out in their mind. For example, “Based on researching your industry, we’d estimate that you’re looking at a 15% hike in production costs next year. How have you prepared for that?”

    Instead of talking about yourself and your product, you’re asking about them.
  3. Reinforce the Unique Benefit You Offer and Request a Time to Meet
    For example, “We’ve done a lot of work with companies like yours facing larger competitors. We have some ideas that might help you. Can we talk more on Thursday at 2:00?” This is the way to add value and show that your focus is on helping the customer.

The Bottom Line
If you use this framework, you can increase the likelihood that the “yes” you earned through persistence will actually turn into a sale. What do you have to lose?

To learn more about how to increase your sales win rate, download The 30 Effective Sales Questions that Matter Most

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