Especially early on in a company’s life span, when getting a series of positive answers can make a great deal of difference to your success, having the door shut on you can be extremely deflating.
But in business, not every ‘no’ is a definite negative. Sometimes it means ‘not right now’, other times it means ‘it’s just not quite the right offer’. So instead of feeling defeated or allowing it to be a huge setback to your business, consider the positive ways you can choose to deal with a ‘no’ in sales.
‘No’ as the start of a conversation
A negative response to a sales pitch can be as much of an opportunity to expand the conversation as a positive one. Perhaps you haven’t made the benefits of your product or service clear enough, or you are talking to the wrong person about the investment. Some other reasons you might get an initial ‘no’ from a buyer or an investor could be:
A poor sales pitch, rather than a poor product or service.
A badly targeted sales pitch – your product or service is great, but you’re trying to sell an enterprise-level solution to a sole trader, or vice versa,
It’s not the right time for the buyer or the investor, who may be in the midst of other investments or purchases, or who might not be looking for something new at that particular moment.
The price point is too high or is pitched incorrectly, so the benefits are not sufficiently explained to justify the price.
Instead of hearing ‘no’ and backing away, take the opportunity to learn and adapt; listen to the objection and the reasoning, and see where you can go from there. If the price point is too high – what would be acceptable to them? If it’s not the right time for them to invest – when should you call them back? If the pitch was badly targeted – what aspects of the product or service would be more relevant to them, and how should they be presented?
Even if your prospect isn’t in a position to invest at that moment, you can still find out exactly what they are looking for and what they value, and at the same time establish when would be a good time to get back in touch. Their business is going through changes? Find out when you can expect your contact to be back in action. They’re waiting for the next tax year before spending a large amount of money? Make a note in your diary to call them at the start of April.
It is always worth checking with your contact that they are happy to be contacted again. If their “it’s not a good time” is a polite way of saying “this is way off point and not what I would spend my money on”, then you don’t want to hassle them and waste both your time. And if what you are offering is just not a good fit for an individual or a business, even if you make adjustments to the price point and the features offered, you are better off spending your time and energy targeting people who are a better fit.
The trick is to listen to a person’s objection, and really hear what they are trying to tell you. A brush off might be a signal that your approach is too aggressive, even if the product would be a good fit, or that your contact is trying to broker a better deal. If you leave at the first sign of objection, you could lose out on a potentially lucrative deal.
‘No’ as a trigger to tweak your sales pitch
When you hear the objections your prospects offer up, go deeper and try to fully understand why they do not want to buy. This is the time to look again at your sales pitch, your offer, and your approach to make it more appealing, based on the feedback you’re given.
If someone is important to your business, you can work with them to reconfigure your offer until it meets their requirements.
If the price point is perceived to be wrong, see whether you can improve your offer to make it more appealing, or compare it to similar products and explain why yours is superior.
If your sales pitch is ineffective, rework it from scratch and predict what your prospect’s objections might be before you even start, so that you can address them in the pitch.
If your sales approach (for example, how hard you push or how you present the benefits and features of your product or service) is not appreciated, consider how you can change this so that your prospects don’t feel under pressure. Alternatively, look at how you could make changes so that they can more clearly understand what you are offering.
If the timing is wrong, communicate with your prospect about when would be more suitable for them, and agree to speak again at that time.
Ultimately, not every sales pitch leads to a successful conversion, but every conversation you have about your business can potentially lead to great connections, which is paramount to business success. A ‘no’ to your product today could turn into an unexpected ‘yes’ tomorrow, so stay positive and keep going. Success comes from persistence, hard work, and a brilliantly pitched idea.