Turning a ‘No’ Into a ‘Yes’

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no or yes

How do you turn a no into a yes?

No one likes hearing “no”, but I would venture to say we entrepreneurs hear that word more than almost anyone else, if you are doing your job right. Your job is to continue to take risks and throw out proposals, plans, and products. Eventually, one is going to stick and you will get the next gig or sale, but in the meantime, you will be hearing plenty of “no’s.”

No is OK. It means you are on track.

That is OK. No means you are on track.

But does it get easier? Probably not. Here though are a few tips for dealing with the dreaded “no,” and remember, “no” also means that the next “yes” is coming down the pike.

Lessons from No to Yes

Learn from it: A no may mean many things, and the first thing to figure out is whether it comes from them or because of you:

  • It may be that what you have to sell is not what they need to buy. No problem there. Or that they don’t have the budget for you right now. Or that the timing is wrong. There are any number of reasons that a prospect may say no that has nothing to do with you. Don’t sweat it and move on.
  • Now, it may be that, to quote George Costanza, “It’s not you, it’s me.” If the reason you hear no too often is because you are doing something wrong, then you better figure it out pretty quickly. Is it your presentation? Your prices? Your manner? Whatever the reason, if you can discover a consistent theme, then you can begin to make corrections.
  • How do you do that? Be bold, grasshopper, be bold. You have to ask your declining prospects why they said no. They may be honest and they may not, but unless you ask, you will have no idea.

Turn it around: Sales can be described as the art of overcoming people’s obstacles. Zig Zigler says there are five basic obstacles to any sale: No need, no money, no hurry, no desire and no trust. Overcome those, and no becomes a yes.

Of course there are countless ways to do that, but here is a new one I recently discovered. I saw Jack Canfield speak recently (Chicken Soup for the Soul, etc.) He has a principle called “10.” He asks prospects (among others) “Was my proposal a 10? If not, what would it take to make it a 10 for you?”

If you hear a no, remember Zig Zigler’s wisdom, zero-in on the most likely obstacle, and use a variation of Canfield’s strategy: “I am committed to getting you what you want, what would be a 10 for you?” Maybe you can do it, maybe not, but at least you will still be in the running.

Use it to your advantage: A no can perform several useful psychological functions, take your pick:

  • It can fire you up: The greats, at anything, were often told they could not do something. Let your no fuel your fire.
  • It can point you in a new direction: A no is feedback. Use it as such.
  • Or it can reinforce that you are on the right: A no is just one person’s opinion. You give it the weight you want.

And finally, sometimes a no is just a no. No big deal. As a wise man once told me, “smile and dial, smile and dial.”


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