The Rule Of No

September 20, 2019


We all know how important getting a ‘Yes’ is, but how important is the word ‘No’ in sales?

For some companies the word ‘No’ is just as or more important than a ‘Yes’. Let me explain. The number-one killer of value in any sales model is disengagement and time-wasting and salespeople not knowing where and how to apply their time. I call this scenario ‘The Black Hole Effect’ which is to say, lots of time going in but with nothing coming out, ever! By out, I mean productivity, tangible value and results.

The key to eliminating time-wasters in sales is to get comfortable with saying the word ‘no’. As a salesperson you need to know your place, and that is in front of customers. When I’m working with a sales team, I always look for ways the salespeople can maximise their time, value and output. The first place I start is in understanding where salespeople add the most value and structuring their time more in that activity, and to create support structures around them to allow them to do so.

I was previously doing some advisory work for with a software development company that found itself being continually bullied by their clients. This company had a very sellable solution and technical capability, but little sales savvy and no clear consistent sales process. This meant, whenever the team were presented with a client opportunity, out of desperation, it would bend over backwards to win the business. In doing so, it set the tone for the ongoing relationship, which essentially meant: we give and you take.

Now, this is acceptable to a point, however in this instance, although my client was winning large contracts with high-profile clients, including banks and government departments ⎼ they were haemorrhaging red ink from uncontrollable scope-creep and copious hours of non-billable work. This was sending the software company towards the hazardous rocks of insolvency.

The first recommendation we provided them was to get comfortable with saying the word, ‘No’ by investing time and resources into understanding who their customers really are and why, and developing a sales process from the initial client conversation that sets the tone for the ongoing relationship.

Example of how to say ‘No’ and set the tone:

Client: Can I have a price and a proposal on this solution by this date?

Salesperson: I am happy to provide you with a proposal and the best price, but that would be toward the end of our initial conversation. Do you have some time now so I can learn more about you business and current situation and what you are setting out to achieve?

Client: No, I just need a quote at this stage.

Salesperson: Our experience tells us that with the solution you need, there is too much ‘grey area’ to simply ‘guesstimate’ a price. And we believe you deserve better than guesswork. How important is it that you get this solution right?

C: Very important.

S: What is the cost associated with getting it wrong?

C: Hard to say, but considerable.

S: I hear you. So you need the right information to make the right decision? And based on our years of expertise delivering successful projects in your space, we have a process to ensure this is achieved. If you have some time now or later I am happy to take you through this process. Is now a good time or is another time more suitable?

C: I am busy now, but can we make a time for early tomorrow? I would like to have my director sit in our this conversation to make sure we cover all areas.

S: Great. How about 10am?

S: Thanks, I look forward to speaking with you and your director then. In the interim I will email you my contact details and some more information about the solution to review prior to our phone meeting. I look forward to speaking with you!

You can see from the above example how simply The Rule Of No works.

It’s not a power-trip or a tactic to alienate customers, it’s simply a thoughtful approach to selling designed to give you confidence and control. It will also help cut through time-wasting conversations and tyre kickers and enable you to have the right conversations with the right customer time and time again so you can deliver the best outcome more often.

Just don’t forget to always communicate the word ‘No’ from a place of belief that clearly benefits the customer.

This article is an excerpt from Trent Leyshan’s first book – The Naked Salesman: How to Walk the Talk and Sell Your Way to Success! Get your special FREE copy now from boomsales.com with every BOOM! Sales ACTIVATE program.

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Trent Leyshan

Trent Leyshan is founder and CEO of BOOM! Sales. Sales expert, sought after speaker and facilitator. He is the author of Outlaw & The Naked Salesman.

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