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How to Master Your Sales Success — Why Every Answer and Rejection Matters In the ever-evolving realm of sales, the conventional pursuit of securing a "yes" may often lead to frustration and missed opportunities.

By Brian Will Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • In the dynamic world of sales, your sales success isn't solely determined by securing a "yes."
  • Acknowledging that a "no" or a well-defined direction can be equally valuable reframes the paradigm of sales triumph.
  • By understanding the significance of each response, you can streamline your efforts, enhance your close ratio, and ultimately elevate your earnings.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In the ever-evolving realm of sales, the conventional pursuit of securing a "yes" may often lead to frustration and missed opportunities. This article focuses on the art of analyzing prospect responses and bringing a new meaning to sales success. You'll learn why there's value in a "no" and how to reclassify a successful pitch with receiving an answer rather than just a "yes."

The misconception of sales success

Most sales professionals set their sights solely on making a sale or securing a "yes" from their prospects. However, this approach can often lead to disappointment.

Why? Because, in reality, most sales presentations end in a resounding "no." Most, if not all, salespeople do NOT have a 100% close rate. Most salespeople have a close rate of less than 50%, meaning they fail more than they succeed.

So, what's the solution?

The key here lies in shifting your objective. Rather than persistently chasing after a sale, pivot your focus to simply getting an answer. This shift will not only reframe your outlook on success but also lay the foundation for a more nuanced and effective sales strategy.

Related: Here's Why Your Team Needs to Say 'No' More Than 'Yes'

The winning answers: Yes, no, or clear direction

Now that we have shifted our outlook on success, determining what constitutes a victory in a sales pitch boils down to receiving one of three distinct responses: a resounding "yes," a clear-cut "no" or a well-defined direction. Here's how they translate to success:

  • Yes: This one's easy. It means your pitch has resonated with the potential client, and they want your product or service. Securing a "yes" is unequivocally a win.
  • No: A flat-out "no" is still a triumph in the grand scheme of sales, as it allows you to move on and redirect your efforts to more promising leads. If you can swiftly acknowledge a prospect's disinterest, you can efficiently streamline your approach and better allocate resources. If you can quickly identify a no, you can focus all your energy on the opportunities to get a yes. Too many salespeople fool themselves into thinking they have a prospect or a lead when what they have is a no. They waste a lot of time chasing nothing.
  • Clear Direction: This response implies a specific follow-up task and a scheduled time to reconnect with your prospect. It's still a win because it confirms potential interest and outlines a roadmap to an eventual "yes." The key to the Clear Direction is a specific follow-up time frame. If the timeframe isn't specific, it's probably a no that you haven't recognized yet.

Recognizing the value of a "no"

Too many salespeople cling to unproductive leads driven by a misguided perception of their potential as future sales. This inclination towards holding onto unpromising prospects is rooted in several factors, including:

  • Lack of understanding of what a "no" truly means: They are viewing the rejection solely as a closed door, rather than as an opportunity to refocus efforts on more viable prospects.
  • Pressure from managers to maintain a full pipeline, even if it's filled with unqualified leads: This means retaining leads that may not align with the ideal customer profile, and ultimately hinders the overall efficiency of the sales process. This is a combination of a problem with the salesperson and a problem with the sales manager.
  • The hopeful belief that a prospect might return to make a purchase: While optimism is a valuable trait, it must be tempered with a realistic evaluation of a lead's likelihood to convert.

For sales managers, it's imperative to take a proactive role in educating your team on discerning genuine opportunities from those unlikely to convert. It is also important not to pressure your team into chasing false hope on leads that are actually dead.

Related: How to Generate Leads From LinkedIn At No Cost

The power of clear direction

Encountering a situation where the initial response is neither a definitive "yes" nor a resounding "no" is not uncommon. To differentiate the future "yes" from the future "no," make sure you can establish a clear direction that not only sustains the momentum of the interaction but also guides the path for subsequent engagement.

This involves setting a specific timeframe for follow-up or assigning a task that leads to the next interaction. Make sure your follow-up plans are specific and result-oriented; they should not just serve as a formality but work to enhance the chances of converting the prospect into a "yes" in the future.

Maintaining close ratios while moving through leads

While a "no" is a clear sign to move on to other potential prospects, a delicate balance is crucial for keeping close ratios within the desired range.

If you start speeding up the process and blowing through leads and your close ratio goes from 15% down to 10%, that suggests missed opportunities and hints at underlying issues in your overall sales process.

Take a step back to analyze your sales process meticulously, identifying any shortcomings or areas requiring refinement.

The key principle remains: strive for a swift progression through leads, but not at the expense of compromising your close ratio. This delicate equilibrium ensures that speed and efficiency can coexist with the ultimate goal of achieving successful conversions.

Remember that your new definition of a "win" should be just getting an answer. Armed with this new perspective, go out there, talk to your prospects, get some answers, and master the art of sales success. As long as you are getting an answer, you are successful 100% of the time!

Brian Will

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of Brian Will Media

Brian Will is a Serial Entrepreneur and a Wall Street Journal best-selling author. Currently, Brian owns a growing chain of restaurants, a Real Estate company and runs a Business Mastermind and Entrepreneur Coaching Program. He also serves on City Council in his hometown.

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