Turn a No into a Yes

Tylko on-line nr 2/2018
For a lot of salesmen, a customer’s “no” is the end of a sales relationship. However, it can turn out to be the beginning of an invaluable discussion and for that you need to be convinced that the ball is still rolling and knowingly navigate the discussion further.

What is the most feared thing in sales for a salesman? Rejection. Validation and acceptance are one of the most basic human needs. Taking into account evolution – exile and exclusion meant death. Though we are not in prehistoric times anymore, our body reacts in the same way it would thousands of years ago – it produces cortisol, known as the hormone of stress. When you are stressed your creative abilities are limited and as is your capacity to think outside the box. What you need are simple rules and strategies to use when you get rejected by a client.

RULE #1 – Treat rejection as a source of information

An experienced and determined salesman talks to the relationship client. The conversation is going well, without obstacles, smooth sailing. He pitches an offer and hears: “I have to think about this”. Unfazed, the salesman asks: “What is there to think about? What information do you need to make a decision?” The customer signals that they need to sort it out in their head. The salesman does what can be done in that situation: determine a decision time and further contact. They call at a set time, but the client does not answer the phone, so the salesman thinks: “At least they could have told me clearly whether it’s a yes or no, I would know where I stand but now they avoid me. I need to learn how to close a deal better”.

So what happened? The customer did not want to be in an awkward situation during the sales meeting. Questioning, objecting or doubting can ruin a meeting’s atmosphere and some people are not good at expressing their discontent, which is why they say they still need to think things over and then avoid contact not to have an unpleasant situation.

The salesman smoothly went from scoping out the client’s needs to making a sales offer, as all the sales meeting stages went well and there was no resistance in either. However, the fact that the sale was not closed, proves that the sales pitch was not conducted properly. A rejection during sales talks is difficult for the client as well. By voicing their objections, they signal that their needs were not met and if you misunderstood those needs in the first place, this is when they will let you know. Same with the reason for rejecting the offer; if you know it, then it contains the client’s most important need that was not met. Remember: it is better to know the reason of rejection, rather than hear a diplomatic “I need to think about this”.

RULE #2. Understand the client before becoming understood

Getting rejected by a client is rough. You will be disappointed and on some level you might start resenting them. Even more so if you are sure that your offer really stands out and is essential for the client, who, in this case, chose a different option that would make them worse off. In this situation, there is a risk of you mentally withdrawing, acquiring the “Forget it then” attitude, trying to convince the client by going over the offer again or simply asking “Are you sure?”. The best thing to do is to actually listen to the client and hear what they have to say:

  • encourage them to explain the reason for the rejection (at this stage, the clients tend to be quite desultory)
  • make sure you understand the client perfectly, clarify if needed
  • show sympathy, it is a difficult moment for the both of you

The client will be more talkative if they feel you are fine with them rejecting you. Granting them the obvious right not to take your offer and showing them that you care about understanding where they are coming from without pressuring them will enable you to learn their main needs.

RULE #3. Conclude the reason of rejection and keep on selling

Worst case scenario, you will not be able to meet your client’s main need. For instance, you are selling medical equipment, which does not have the functionality crucial for your client’s business. If that is the case, following this simple set of rules, presented above, will make you to be perceived and remembered as a professional and therefore will increase your chances of any future negotiations you might have with the customer. However, when your client passes on your offer and gives you feedback that you missed a mark and that they do not see added value in your solution, it means they feel your offer does not fulfil their needs. What went wrong? It could be insufficient research of their expectations, failure to show how exactly your solution could help them or not hearing the needs and expectations conveyed in the objections expressed during the negotiation. That is why it is crucial to, at this moment, understand your client’s point of view. There are no second chances here. Therefore, before you respond, sum up what your client just told you and wait for the affirmative answer.

Table 1. How to sum up your client’s responses? Source: Author’s own work



Client: I do not want to buy from you because my acquaintance did and had major problems with the service.

Salesman: I understand that you do not want to buy from us because we have trouble with our service? Is that right?

Client: I do not want to buy from you because my acquaintance did and had major problems with the service.

Salesman: I understand that while making a decision, you take into account the efficiency of the service, is that correct?

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