35. How to Handle a “No”

You always need to ask (not assume) why you got a “No.”

Usually it’s because you made one of these two mistakes:

1. You screwed up on at least one of the steps in the marketing and sales process. For instance, if you didn’t segment or qualify properly, you might be talking to someone who never intended to buy your viewpoint and take the action you want. This would be akin to the Mercedes salesperson spending a lot of time with someone who only has $10 in the bank. Or you could have screwed up on the needs analysis, and wound up making the wrong pitch to the customer. This would be like the salesperson trying to sell a tiny sports car to a couple looking for a family vehicle.

Or,

2. You short-circuited the sales process by asking for the sale prematurely—i.e., before you established a positive and trusting relationship with the customer.

Even if you think you know what went wrong, however, it’s still important to ask the customer what he thinks. That’s because (a) you want to make sure your assumption is accurate, and (b) in discussing the situation with the customer, you may get a chance to defuse his objection(s) and turn the “No” into a “Yes.” You do this not by arguing with him or lecturing him, but by assuming that you’ve made a mistake somewhere in the sales process. If the customer permits it, go back and repeat the Restate, Ponder & Present Solution and Ask for the Sale steps, and see if you can do better.

No one likes to hear a lot of “No”s, but they do go with the territory. Salespeople and activists both need to develop a thick skin so that the “No”s just bounce off. (In any case, you should not take them personally!) Remember that a disciplined approach to marketing and sales can help minimize the number of “No”s you wind up hearing, and also make those “No”s you do hear easier to deal with.