Saying No Is Something You Just Might Have to Do
You may think that the only way to close a sale is to say yes to everything your prospect requests. Finding points of agreement and ways to deliver on them are certainly parts of selling. Saying no in sales is also an important part of your work. Knowing when and how to say no will be key to your sales success.
Know early what could cause your saying no.
You should and probably do prepare for every sales call. Part of your preparation should be the boundaries of what you can and cannot do for a customer. Your company has requirements for lead times, credit worthiness and other business-related requirements. All these “rules” relate to how you can effectively service your customers after the sale. What happens when a prospect needs more than you can offer? You have to decide how difficult or easy it will be to make that exception.
Think about what might cause you to say no before you sell. It’s not that you are having a negative mindset. It’s that you are preparing to be the most effective sales professional. Everyone has limits. You have to be aware of what yours are.
Communicate saying no in a balanced way.
It’s a delicate process to make your prospect aware of what could in effect be a deal killer. You don’t want to be the buzz kill of the sales process, but you do not want to be Pollyanna either. Your goal is to be neither overly optimistic nor overly negative. Try to achieve the balance of hopeful for success, but not a guaranteed final outcome.
Let’s say you know your company has requirements for credit worthiness. You would talk in early meetings about the steps you have to complete to set up an account. Mention the ranges that are required and time limits to achieve approval.
It’s the surprises you want to avoid later. A customer who is aware of lead times early in the sales process cannot claim he was unaware of them later when he wants a shorter lead time.
Saying no as early as possible in your sales process is more effective.
Recognize that a no has an impact on your prospect and his business. Your no could have a big impact. Your prospect might have to line up other suppliers, have to address other deadlines that your decision impacts or cause him to develop new options to move forward.
What decisions would your prospect have to make so he could go forward? That’s why it’s important for you to communicate your no as early as possible in your sales process.
Be sure you notice when it’s clear that you will have to say no. You may be waiting for something else to change so you can say yes and move forward. It’s time to say no once you realize that the situation won’t change. Don’t delay letting your prospect know.
It’s important to realize that all noes aren’t final. Your no to your prospect may simply be a no for now. You might share that information with him when you tell him. After all, situations do change and that might happen with your company’s policies or with your prospect’s.
Having to say no is always a challenge. Your goal is to work with your prospect in a way that demonstrates you handled the situation in a gracious, timely manner. That way he will remember you positively when the time might come when you can say yes.