We salespeople are optimists! I like being optimistic, and having that quality is one of the things that allows us to do our jobs well. Let’s face it, typically more prospects say, “No,” to our offering than say, “Yes.” Unless you have a better than 50% closing ratio you hear the word “No” far more often than “Yes.” If we weren’t optimists, believing that everything will work out fine, we couldn’t do our jobs very long in the face of the massive rejection most of us salespeople face each day. That’s where the problem lies. The same optimism that makes us believe that “Yes” is right around the corner often blinds us to when people are saying “No” and we end up chasing every prospect equally. In a perfect world (one without clocks) that would be fine but in this world we have a limited amount of time. Unfortunately most salespeople act as if time is unlimited.
Since it’s a given that we only have so many hours each day and each week that we can do what we do (sell) we need to find a way to make the most of every minute and highly respect the fact that we can only work with so many prospects at any given time. We also need to figure out how to decide which prospects are worth pursuing and which aren’t. We need to know when “No” means “No” and when it means, “I need some more reasons to buy and then I might become a customer.” One of the things that makes this difficult is that we salespeople are generally very likeable and people don’t like to say “No” to us. They’ll use different words and methods for saying “No” so that they don’t offend us but we salespeople take those words to mean “Yes.”
The first thing you should understand is that “No” is a gift. When a prospect tells you they’re not buying, and they really mean it, they’ve given you the gift of time. If they really aren’t buying you can shake their hand, tell them you’ve enjoyed meeting them and would love to do business with them anytime they’re ready and you can move on to another prospect that might actually buy from you. In other words they give you time to go find a fish that might bite. I love when I get a real “No” from a prospect. I don’t like it as much as I like “Yes” but “No” is a very close second. What I don’t like, and try my best to avoid, is anything other than “Yes” or “No.” Things like, “I need to think it over,” or “I need to speak with my partner.” (my accountant, the committee, etc.) These are the things that steal your time and your attitude and often mean you’re not getting the sale but the prospect just doesn’t want to use the word “No.”
It’s the same whether your selling your product or setting (selling) the appointment. You want to look for the fish that are biting. If you saw the movie, “The Perfect Storm,” you’ll remember that the fisherman on the Andrea Gale weren’t having much luck. Their captain decides they should head someplace else. Why? Because he knew that it was foolish to fish where the fish weren’t biting and it was far smarter to fish where they were biting. (of course it’s a good idea to avoid being in the middle of three storms colliding while you’re fishing but that’s another story) It sounds so simple but take a look at the prospects in your current pipeline. How long have you been “chasing” them? What’s your typical sales cycle? How far past your typical sales cycle are you? (the likelihood of closing a deal decreases dramatically the further you exceed your typical sales cycle) Are they returning your phone calls? Are they stalling you? (“Call me next week, month, quarter, century) If you’re chasing the fish that aren’t biting and devoting the same amount of time and attention to them as the fish that are biting (returning your calls, setting next action steps with you) you’re not investing your valuable time wisely.
Not closing enough business? Perhaps you’re spending too much time working with fish that aren’t biting. Try another vertical. See if previous clients are ready to buy again. (previous or existing clients are generally far easier to see than someone who hasn’t done business with you before) Fill your pipeline with new prospects while keeping your eyes and ears attuned to the signals that mean “No” and be sure to fish where the fish are biting!