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Getting Past "No"

How do you turn that "no" into a "yes"? We've got some breakthrough tips to get you there.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the June 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Some sales are like driving on a highway--you drive straight ahead and get off at your destination. You offer a product, the customer likes what he sees and the sale is made. Most sales, however, are more like driving on back-country roads--they're full of twists, turns, detours, stop signs and potholes. The customer says "maybe," then "not right now," then just plain "no." Is that the end of the road for the sale? Not necessarily.

If you want your journey with that customer to end in a sale, you've got to find ways to get around that "no." It doesn't matter if you're dealing with a one-time sale or a two-year sales cycle; the philosophy remains the same. Here are four qualities you need to nourish:

1. Belief in yourself and your product or service: You must believe you have the ability to turn that "no" into a "yes." There should be no doubt in your mind that eventually the customer will say "yes" because of who you are, what you have, and what you can do to solve his or her problem. Passion and enthusiasm are contagious-and they'll give you positive direction and momentum.

2. The value you bring to the customer: Make sure you understand your product or service, the customer's environment and challenges, as well as your customer's customer. This depth of knowledge allows you to truly understand the value of this opportunity for the customer. That value is then communicated through your physical energy, your voice, and the way you tie your idea back to the customer's goals and needs. The confidence you bring to the table will help the customer feel comfortable, get past his doubts, and go straight for the "yes."

3. Unique factors that make you different: Why would a customer do business with you over somebody else? You have to differentiate yourself to the customer in at least three key ways. But it's not enough to be different; you must also let the customer know why your solutions are so unique and how they align with his business goals. If you know what makes the customer tick, or what his key needs are, the customer will better understand the value of your uniqueness and how it will help his company. "No" is a comfortable answer for the customer. To get past that "no," find a new approach.

4. Persistence: When you believe in yourself, when you focus on the value you bring to customers, and when you have a strong differentiating factor, then persistence and tenacity come naturally. Next time a customer says "Thanks, but we're all set," or "Sorry, it's not in our budget right now," you can reply with "Share 10 minutes with me. If I don't show you something of tremendous value in that time, I'll never call you again."

Getting past "no" really comes down to the qualities listed here, with belief in yourself the most important of all. In a recent interview, General Norman Schwarzkopf was asked what quality was most important for an army to possess. His answer? No matter what tanks, technology or might you have to support you, if individual soldiers don't have a positive mental attitude and a belief in their cause, everything else is just scrap metal. There's just no substitute for that core of belief to get past the "no" every time.

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