In a sales and marketing career that spans over 30 years in a variety of roles from sales person to vice president of sales and marketing, small business owner and now consulting, I have learned a few tips to improve your small business marketing including the importance of getting beyond the first no's.
Don't Give Up at the First No
During my sales career, sales trainers pointed out that most sales happened after the 5th no. That doesn't mean you have to collect all of those no's at once as you can find yourself barred from ever talking with that prospect if you insist on pushing when your prospect gives you a firm no.
Tips for Handling "No" Answers
You need to learn to read people. No's can mean a variety of things on a sales call so here are some suggestions for handling the no response:
#1 - Avoid Asking for Yes or No Answers during Interview
First off, use open ended questions for your survey or interview of your prospect. Only use close ended, i.e. yes or no, to tie down and confirm your understanding
#2 - No Might Be a Test
Strangely, 'No' might be a test to see if you will quit and leave without pursuing the reason for the no. Inexperienced salespeople tend to quit after one to three no's without probing to understand the 'no.'
#3 - Ask for Clarification
If you know that this person fits your ideal customer profile and probably has a need for your products and services, ask for an explanation or more detail. Why did she answer 'no'?
#4 - Use a Conversational Approach in Your Questions.
If she said no to your question, what would make her answer a yes? What is her biggest challenge right now? Seek to engage in a discussion by focusing on what you know of other businesses like hers.
#5 - They Will Only See You If They Have a Need
Unless this person is a time waster, she will only agree to meet if she suspects you may have a solution to a problem or the answer to a desired result. You need to quickly get her to know, like and trust you enough to give you detailed answers.
#6 - Avoid 'Selling' Too Soon
Everyone invests their time in what is important to them so they want to know, "What's in it for me?" In order to focus on that, you have to find out what they want and feel they need. What's demanding their time and attention? Know the answer to that before you do any selling.
#7 - Ask Permission to Keep in Touch
If a couple more question all end up in no's with no additional details being offered, your prospect has something else on her mind, you haven't uncovered her major concern, or you haven't connected and earned her trust yet. Ask permission to keep in touch, especially by email. Things change over time. If you kept in touch with useful and interesting information, you will have a chance when their preferred vendor fails them or when they have a new need.
Most sales people quite too soon and fail to keep in touch. Historically, most sales occur after the fifth no. To have a successful small business marketing program, realize that it takes time to build relationships and to understand your prospects enough to hit their sweet spots. Applying these seven tips will give you're the right mindset to get beyond the no on sales calls. Handle the no's better to increase sales while connecting better with your prospects and customers.
More from this contributor:
- Small Businesses