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It Ain't Selling Until They Say No

by Doug Davidoff | Jan 7, 2011 3:59:00 AM

There is probably no sales myth that angers me more than, “a salesperson must be able to get a buyer to say ‘no’ five times, before they say yes.”  The myth manifests itself in a variety of ways.  It overemphasizes closing, makes the process unnecessarily adversarial, and it wastes a tremendous amount of selling time, and therefore, wastes millions of dollars.  To top it off, it's probably the number one reason why salespeople have such a bad reputation.

That said, if the customer or buying organization doesn’t put up a roadblock, disagree in a meaningful way or attempt to cutoff the process at some point, then it is not really selling – it’s agreeing.  After all, the definition of selling is making sales that would not otherwise have occurred.

Selling is all about influencing.  It’s about changing mindsets and perspectives.  If customers are already thinking what you are, then you don’t really need sales efforts.  Anyone who has seen me sell knows that the situation that always makes me the most nervous in a sales situation is when the customer isn’t disagreeing or pushing back on anything I say.

When I’m coaching salespeople, I cheer them on with the reminder that, “the sale doesn’t begin until you get a ‘no.’”

    • So when the customer says that they’re not really looking to outsource the function, and you know that outsourcing would have a dramatically positive impact on them; guess what?  The sale has begun.
    • When the customer says you're priced too high, and you know that your “higher price” is what enables you to solve their problem in such a way that it can bring superior results; guess what? The sale has begun.

This does not mean that every time a customer says “no,” that you should attempt to plow through them.  I encourage you to read my previous post on The Difference Between Barriers and Conditions.

What this means is that if you’ve done your homework, your business case is strong, and you believe in your solution, you cannot be frustrated by a prospect’s or customer’s inability to see it that way immediately.

Rather, you must be motivated by it – that’s why we call it selling.