It’s Never Too Early In The Sale To Say No


Share on LinkedIn

Sales prospects don’t like being told No by people doing the selling, which perversely means that’s exactly what sales professionals should do.

That sounds a little challenging, right? And of course it is, but for good reason.

Given the typical sales process of call, pitch and close, no professional worth the name wants to shut down the conversation before getting to the end. Prospects aren’t that easily come by. It’s much easier to go along with what the buyer wants, and then ask for the order once s/he’s got it.

But the truth is customers and prospects are like kids at Christmas. They are never going to be content with what they’ve been given until there are no more packages under the tree. Or in the prospect’s case, until the sales guy has conceded as much as she’s allowed to.

John told me an interesting story about how his own thinking was changed by what happened to him in a big sale.

He worked for a software company selling ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning.

John had been working on a sale to a clothing manufacturer – built a strong relationship with the CFO and CIO, ticked all the boxes and blown away the competition. His sales process was in good shape. He’d even met with the CEO a couple of times and even taken all three on a couple of customer reference visits.

Every time the prospect asked for more information, or another meeting, or another explanation by the pre-sales team, John went along with it.

But John was worried. He just couldn’t get to that point where the prospect was totally content with his deal. No matter what he did, the opportunity to close the sale never came any nearer.

After several months of saying Yes, John finally said No.

The CFO called him and asked, on his CEOs direction, for yet another customer reference call. That was the straw which broke the camel’s back. John refused – he just wasn’t doing anymore. The CFO, a very mild mannered man, understood, or seemed to.

Not more than 10 minutes later, the CEO called John. “I understand we’ve asked you to set up another customer reference call, and you’ve refused” he said.

Our hero replied

“Yes I have. For months now I’ve done everything I can to show you our solution is the best available – pre-sales reports, proposals, discounts, customer references. You already have all the information you need to make a decision. I’m not going to do anything else.”

The CEO was taken aback. Obviously he wasn’t used to anybody saying NO to his requests.

“Well” said the CEO, “let me explain. We’ve already decided to buy your software. But my board of directors has asked us to get one more customer reference. If that goes well, you’ll get the business as per your current proposal”.

“In that case” said John “tell me which of our customers, and when.” “Between now and that meeting, we’ll work out the contract so you can sign as soon as its done”.

“OK” said the CEO, “I’ll get my CFO to work out the details with you, and thanks for your help”.

Naturally John was a happy boy now. He’d just closed the deal he’d been trying to shut down for months.

But he was left with a question nagging his mind.

How much cost of sale could he have saved if only he’d said No earlier in the deal?

You can find more Sales Stories in this blog and at Sales Stories From The Front Line and soon will be able to buy our new book which brings all these stories together.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Reeves
Consultant, author, software entrepreneur, business development professional, aspiring saxophonist, busy publishing insight and ideas. Boomer turned Zoomer - thirty year sales professional with experience selling everything from debt collection to outsourcing and milking machines to mainframes. Blogger at Successful Sales Management. Head cook and bottle washer at Front Office Box.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here