Sunday, November 02, 2008

Give Me No's!

I stopped in my favorite coffee shop this morning & bumped into a friend of mine who runs a software company. I pulled up a seat to briefly catch up with him. We exchanged the general how ya doin's & the conversation quickly turned to the economy. "How's the economy affecting your business?” he asked.

Well that's somewhat of a loaded question my company was founded in the midst of a recession so frankly we know no different we were forced to be lean & inventive from the get go. I shared with him our plans to launch a larger sales force into the recession, taking this as an opportunity to expand while others contract. I must confess, I thought I was somewhat of a maverick ("don't cha know") with this approach. Then he proceeded to enlighten me.

The conversation went something like this:

"Sales are up by 30% but no's are up 300%" He say's

"How the hell is that possible??? Your reps pitch must suck!"- Me

"The sales are in the no's"- He say's

All right I'll spare you the play by play but I want you to think about this approach. It completely flips conventional wisdom on its head. The goal of a sales rep is to get to yes right??? No it's not. The goal of a sales rep is to get a decision.

Think about how many times you hung on to a prospect too long (at what point does it stop being prospecting & turn into stalking?) You were afraid of the inevitable- the decision. This is the beauty of the no approach. You stop worrying about only contacting those you think will buy, only approaching those who have been deemed "good prospects". That's total bullshit you cling on to these "prospects" long after the decision has been made (oh it's been made you're just scared to ask). That's right getting to no is a liberating feeling. You cut the bullshit, you gain clarity. You fish or cut bait, you shit or get off the pot, you- ok I'll stop with the phrases but seriously you know where you stand. By asking yes or no you stop fabricating reasons & get them straight from the prospect. A huge benefit during this market down turn is you may not get a yes but you will know if your service makes sense for them & when budgets improve you are in the drivers seat.

This also limits the scope of your sales funnel. If you're afraid of getting no's you won't get enough into the pipeline because you'll start to exclude companies based on arbitrary information that you have hyped up & are convinced is a valid reason they will say no. You essentially start creating no's for them. This is the real driver here ACTIVITY! Activity breed’s activity, motion creates motion you know the deal. But it's true. If you are only focused on talking to those who you think will say yes you will drastically reduce your activity by excluding all those "no's".

Finally you learn from no's. Each time a prospect says no. You study that situation, you chronicle that sales call to understand what you did to get that no. After a sufficient number of no's you'll find they all become yes.

So what did I take away from this brief but insightful conversation? Go for the no, for these four reasons:

1. No= Decision= Clarity.
2. No= Activity
3. No= Learning
4. No=Yes

Good luck with your no’s.

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