None of us in sales escapes the occasional “no.” The power lies in understanding what each customer or prospect means when they say it. Once you know that, you’ll know what to do about it.
Here are five typical reasons a customer/prospect says no and the appropriate solution for each:
Reason 1—Bad Timing
No matter how powerful your value proposition is, the customer is not going to say yes if the timing isn’t right.
Solution: Make sure you did everything to create urgency around how much the customer will lose by delaying the decision. If you did that and the answer is still no, then find out when the decision will be made and follow up then.
Reason 2—Too Much Risk
When the prospect perceives there is too much risk in accepting your offer, the answer is usually no.
Solution: Elevate the conversation from your products to the customer’s ultimate goals and challenges. Find out where your offer came up short and see if you can reposition it to sufficiently reduce the risk, allowing the customer to take a chance and give you the business.
Reason 3—The Price Is Too High
This is a common line of reasoning, but you have three options to work with:
Solution 1: Revisit your customer’s overall goals and objectives and do a better job helping her realize that while she may be paying a higher price up front, but she will be saving considerably in terms of money, productivity, and disruption of services over the lifetime of the product. For this to work, you need to ask questions and let the prospect tell you the answers. If you do all the talking and explaining, you will be wasting your breath.
Solution 2: Sometimes a buyer will test you with the price objection to see if you will blink. To help uncover whether the price objection is a ploy or a real issue, ask the customer what part of your proposed solution they would like to give up. Nobody likes to give up anything and if the price objection is a ploy, usually this will help you get the deal at your price. If there really is price pressure on the customer’s side, then this will help the customer decide what they will give up to get the deal at the price they can afford. This allows you to maintain your value and prevents you from reducing your prices unnecessarily.
Solution 3: Reduce your price to get the deal. I do not recommend you try this solution first. This is a last resort, and you should only do it if you truly need the deal for some reason. Remember: When you lower your price, you lower your value and train your customer to expect you to lower your price in the future.
Reason 4—Not the Right Decision Maker
If you are not speaking with the decision maker, then you are relying on the person you are talking with to have the guts to take your case up the flagpole and risk their reputation or career, which they won’t do if they don’t fully buy into your pitch.
Solution: Find out who the decision maker is and find something that will motivate your contact to make the introduction. Usually, it can be done by asking questions that only the decision maker has the answers to. If you are blocked from getting to the decision maker, then find out from your contact what the decision maker needs to say yes. Provide your contact with all the ammunition you can give them to effectively sell your cause. Make sure they fully believe in your solution and give them the confidence to make the case.
Reason 5—No Need
As a Sales and Leadership expert, I have noticed that sales execs often propose solutions too early, and they do it before they properly qualify the prospect as the right opportunity. A solid qualification process should eliminate many “no need” responses. The right opportunity includes:
- Customer has a need that is in your wheelhouse.
- Customer has urgent needs that require a solution quickly.
- Customer sees the value in your system and how doing something different will add the value they’re looking for.
If you have qualified the opportunity and given it your best shot and the answer is still no, then simply put them in your tickler file and try later. However, if you have qualified the prospect and you realize that both the opportunity and prospect do not fit your profile of an “ideal customer,” then cut your losses and move on.
Time is the most valuable commodity any of us has, and too many sales execs are wasting theirs with customers who say no. To sell more in less time, you must either convert the no to a yes or simply move on and find the customers/prospects who want to do business with you and have a need. By striving to understand the reasons for a prospect’s no, you will make the most of your time and make way for more yes answers.
Please share your thoughts on how you handle the answer “no”