Understanding the “No”

Understanding the “No”

Today I want to talk to you about understanding the “No” that you sometimes get at the end of a sales conversation.

I’ve noticed a tendency amongst my clients to beat themselves up if a potential client says that “No”. They question themselves, thinking they did something wrong or that they are a failure because they couldn’t get the client to enrol with them.

Watch the video or read below to learn more.

A “No” is not all bad news

Now, stopping, reflecting and analysing what happened in your sales conversation is an incredibly good thing to be in the habit of doing, and for this reason a “No” can be a very useful learning tool.

Sometimes an individual needs and would benefit from your help but your failure to conduct the sales conversation effectively leads to them deciding not to go ahead.  And this can be incredibly frustrating to see them drift away, knowing that nothing’s going to change for them and you could have done something differently in that sales conversation to help them commit to making this change.  This is frustrating for you as somebody who wants to make a difference, and also as someone who is running a business and needs paying clients for it to be viable.

Understanding the "No"

For example perhaps you got carried away and you talked about your solution and how you’re going to help them too early in the conversation before the client was ready and their resistance came up.  Or you might not have focused in enough on their specific problem so they didn’t fully see the relevance of your work to their situation.

At these times you can look back on the “No” that you got and think “I got that No because I didn’t do a good enough job in this sales conversation.  I didn’t do enough to support the client to make the decision that was best for them”

On these occasions, it is useful to take a closer look at the conversation you just had and identify areas of improvement and promise yourself that you won’t let that happen again in the future.

At other times, a “No” is just a no

And it doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong at all.

You might have conducted your sales conversation perfectly, done everything you could to guide your potential client through the structure really well… and they still decide to say “No”.

In these cases I find it helpful to remember these three important points…

1. As a heart-centred business owner, you’re not in the business of getting a “yes” at all costs

This is not traditional sales where you’re out to “close” the sale and hit your targets, no matter what it takes. In a heart-centred business, there’s no place for selling people something they don’t genuinely need and want.

So if you get a “No” from the client but you know that you did everything you could to support them in that conversation and to demonstrate the value of working with you, then you’ve done a good job.  It’s even likely that they may come back to you later or refer people to you.

2. Your potential client is a human being with their own free will

It’s important to accept and respect the ability of our potential clients to make their own decisions irrespective of whether you agree with those decisions or not.

3. Even the most perfectly conducted sales conversation doesn’t automatically translate into a paying client… and that’s ok

So there are times when you’ll get a “No” and are right to be frustrated.   And other times when the “No” is completely valid and understandable.

To share an example from my own recent experience, I had a sales conversation with a lady who had two children going through exams, and another child who was facing some very difficult personal circumstances.   As I listened to her talk, it seemed clear to me that what she needed to do most at that point was be mum to her family.  Then, once the exams were out of the way and things with her other child settled down, she could turn her attention back to her business, and that would be the point where it would make more sense for her to make an investment in working with me – when she could focus fully and really make the most of it.

So it wasn’t just that I respected her decision not to go ahead and work with me, I actually shared the decision.  There are lots of other valid reasons someone might give for not going ahead and working with me and that’s fine too.  After all if someone can’t give their work with me their full attention and commitment they’re not going to see results and that’s not fulfilling for either of us.


But getting a “No” can still throw you a bit, so here’s what to do when you get one:

How to handle “No”

Here’s how to elegantly handle a “No” the next time you hear it…

1. Acknowledge the reason

The next time you hear a “No” at the end of a sales conversation, the first thing to do is to acknowledge the reason, irrespective of whether you agree with it.

If you start to argue with the client or tell them that they’re wrong, you will immediately alienate them, making unlikely that they will return to you to continue the conversation in the future.

If you do disagree with them you may be able to guide them into a next stage of the conversation where you get their permission to question them more deeply and if the rapport is there challenge them on their decision.  But if you do that it’s still important to first acknowledge their reason.

2. Suggest making a commitment now 

Depending on the reason given for the “No”, you might suggest that they make a commitment now by paying a deposit, or even in full, to start work with you a specific point in the future.

For example I recently shared a story about my acupuncturist who recommended I buy her 6 week package.  However, at the time of that conversation it was mid-July and I knew I would be away quite a lot during August so wouldn’t be able to commit to a weekly appointment until September. The ideal thing for her to have done would have been to encourage me to pay a deposit in July in order to make my commitment to the work and secure my place in her calendar for September.

3. Agree to keep in touch. 

If that’s not appropriate or the client doesn’t want to make a commitment now (remember, you can’t force someone to pay you), then agree to get in touch at a later date. So, in the example I gave earlier, I might schedule a follow up conversation for after the exam results came out.  My job is to make sure that I stay in contact and reach out at the right time to have that conversation, preferably a few weeks before before she’s going to be in the position to fully re-engage with working on her business.

4. But what if the “No” is just an excuse?

Sometimes you may get the feeling that the “No” is in fact just an excuse or a smokescreen. Now you can never know for sure what’s going on in somebody else’s mind but normally I find that if the client is very open with you about what’s going on for them and freely shares a lot of detail, that’s usually a sign that they do want to work with you, but the concern they’ve raised is genuine for them.

I find that if it is a smokescreen and they don’t want to work with you but are trying to be polite, they will usually use one of these three popular excuses instead: “I can’t afford it”,  “I need to think about it”, or “I have to go and discuss this with my spouse/partner.”

And remember:

Sometimes “No” is a “No, not yet” rather than a “No, never”.

And the way you handle that “No” in the moment will be what determines whether that client comes back to you when they’re ready, recommends you to other people, or avoids you forevermore because you didn’t respect and acknowledge their decision and that felt pushy to them.

What about you? Have you had a “No” that knocked your confidence? Or have you discovered an an elegant way of handling “No”? Please share in the comments below – I always love to hear your thoughts.

And of course, I’d love you to share this if you know anybody else that you think would find this useful.

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1 Comment

  1. Meta Groselj - Four Dimensional Life on August 23, 2017 at 7:46 am

    I have to say, aft6er working with you Catherine I have no issues with NO anymore. Firstly, I seldom get a NO in the first place. And if I hear a NO, the first one I hear is ussualy the one in my head 15 after discovery. But it realy seldom happens. I also dont push to close. I hate it when people do that to me so I tend to leave them to think about the offer (that is my corporates, not individuals.. individuals I close), but push to close at the sheduled date in full with a deposit payed. I have to say, having worked with you I finnaly found asystem of sales that definately works for me. I think trusting your system keeps you in the loop with NO’s as well because you understand them and they dont cling to your selfasteem or pride… having many people give me a full blown YES, No’s become very insignificant :)))) Glad you brought up this subject!

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