Why getting a no is as important as getting a yes in sales

- June 3, 2024 3 MIN READ


Despite its reputation of being cutthroat and biding by a winner-takes-all mentality, the corporate world is, in fact, awfully nice. So much so that it’s often hard to get people to tell you what they really think about your work, your idea, or your product. Jonathan Pease (JP), author of Winning the Room explain how you can get a clear response and why a ‘no’ can be as important as a ‘yes.’

Think about it through the lens of your own experiences: how many times have you received agreement or approval after a presentation, only to find out weeks later that it’s not going ahead and you’re back to square one?

Maybe it’s the fact we’re remote more often, or maybe, we’ve all become soft… either way, a ‘no’ disguised as a ‘maybe’ or a wobbly ‘yes’ will waste your time, resources, and money.

It’s a silent margin killer and as the presenter, we must get to a firm yes or no.

Here’s a few ideas on how to do just that:

1. Push for opinions

 I know, I know – when you’re passionate about a pitch, it’s tempting to talk wall to wall about it in your presentation. The problem is it doesn’t leave a lot of room for one of the most valuable strategies for growth: asking questions.

To become better at the art of selling, you need to regularly ask your customer or client for their opinion. More than that, you need to really listen to what they’re saying and take it on board. Check in, seek their thoughts, and hunt for their doubts. The sooner you know how they really feel, the sooner you can refine your pitch and hit the mark!

2. Litigate with your audience

Lukewarm opinions are the enemy of growth. This is why I recommend that you help your audience form a strong point of view about whatever you’re selling by litigating it with them. Stand with your audience and look back at the idea. Play devil’s avocado and ask the tough questions.

Yes, I’m telling you to grill your ideas and yourself. Don’t let your ego get in the way. Be honest and humble. If it’s not quite right or doesn’t meet the needs of your audience… call it out and commit to improving it. If your audience knows you’re willing to be wrong, they will be more likely to believe you when you’re certain you’re right.

3. Close to commitment

Make sure what you’re asking for in your sales pitch is crystal clear. It needs its own big moment rather than being something you hint at during the end of the meeting. When you’re creating your pitch, remember that the ask is the meeting! You must give it the space it deserves in the room but also in your audience’s mind.

The key to the close moment is to ensure you get a committed verbal response. This doesn’t mean a few people nod their heads or give you a vague gesture. You need to hear the commitment verbalised by your audience. A verbal NO is just as valuable as a verbal YES. With a committed ‘no’ you can seek feedback, refine your approach, and make a smarter, improved pitch at a later date. A pretend or even assumed YES will slowly erode your morale and business.

Overall the key is to get your audience or customer to commit one way or another fully. Once you have the definitive answer, that is where the real work can start. This exchange of real opinions and feelings is how great business relationships thrive. Everything else is just nice chit-chat.

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