I spend a lot of time working with professional sales people and am constantly surprised at the general resistance to using the word ‘No’ during a sales process. I find this particularly vexing because, in my experience, the word ‘No’ is probably the most powerful word you can use to achieve a great sales outcome.
From my perspective there are several occasions where using ‘No’ is powerful, here are two of them;
As a Trusted Adviser you need to say ‘No’ when it needs to be said – As a Trusted Advisor you bring a set of capabilities to your prospect that they do not have themselves. [or else why are you there?] Knowing that, it makes no sense to agree to a prospects requests that may be ill-considered just because you don’t want to upset the sale or because you don’t know the actual answer. A Trusted Advisor says ‘Yes’ when it is good for the prospect and ‘No’ when it is not good. Doing otherwise is not acting as a Trusted Advisor.
This positioning will generally reflect positively on you, clearly demonstrating that you have their best interests in mind. It will strengthen your positioning as a Trusted Advisor and makes the deal more likely to conclude successfully.
‘No’ will generally trigger the completion of a negotiation – Think about basic market haggling. It is not until one of the parties say ‘No’ that you have your first marker for either the upper or lower limit in the negotiation. The placement of that marker forces the other party to decide whether they are in or out. Most good negotiators I have dealt with will not finish negotiating until they get a ‘No’ as getting it is the only way they can be sure they have not left money on the table.
Now the downside here is that you say ‘No’ too early and skittle the deal or you say it too late and end up with an unprofitable deal. You still need to time the use of ‘No’ to ensure you get the right outcome. That is your job as a professional executive or salesperson.
Now, I am not saying we should go around saying ‘No, No, No’ to everyone. In fact, most times I say ‘No’ it is couched a lot more sensitively and with a view to keeping the dialogue moving forward. Examples of ‘No’s’ that I would tend to use are;
1. In this case I can’t go that low however ….
2. I’d prefer to agree to …. because …
3. Thanks for that however I think it would work better for both of us if….
4. What if we thought of it differently? How does this sound …..
A good ‘No’ will always offer some explanation and leave room open for further discussion.
So next time you are moving through a sales process consider how ‘No’ can help get a better outcome for you, your organisation and for your potential new customer.