The Power of ‘No’: An Inside Sales Person’s Hedge Against Failure

As inside sales people we all love to hear ‘Yes.’  We call, we pitch, we charm and we educate; we overcome the objections and we sell.  Great sales people have it in their DNA; they love the ‘Yes’ and hate the ‘No.’  I contend that getting beyond the hatred of the ‘No’ can not only benefit us as sales people, we can actually use it as a hedge against failure.

I first heard the statement, “Make ‘No’ your friend” back in 1983.  Yes – I know – I am dating myself  to make the point, I ask that you indulge me as I share a personal story that proved to be a big change for me as a sales person.  So, back in the 80s I had my first real inside sales job.  I was average at best but was surrounded by some really talented sales people.  One person in particular consistently posted superior results compared to the team and just crushed my results.

One day, through a fluke, I got invited to go to lunch with her.  We walked to the garage and she proceeded to get into a Ferrari.  If I recall, I was driving an eight year old Toyota.   The lunch was uneventful; just two coworkers talking and getting to know each other.  But, as I got out of her car I noticed that she had one of those vanity plates with a custom message.  Hers read, “NO –2400”.  Naturally, I had to ask the meaning of the plate since it did not seem all that personal.  Her response really got my attention.  She said that it was the formula to ensure that she will  earn over 200k.  I was intrigued.

Through several more conversations she educated me about her sales strategy and how she, with access to the same resources, same names to call, and same amount of hours in a day was able to more than double what other team members were making.  She summed it up this way.  She said, “Most people spend their time banging away to find and secure a ‘Yes’ and get very frustrated and slow down when they get a ‘No’.  I have learned that I don’t have any real control over when a ‘Yes’ comes.  What I do control are the ‘No’s and the effort it takes to get them.

The license plate suddenly made more sense.  2400 was the number of times she had to hear ‘No’ in one year to ensure income over 200k.  She had actually divided the ‘No’s all the way down to an hourly count and added a dollar value to them.  As she collected her ‘No’s, she tallied the value she had assigned to them and eagerly moved on to the next call and opportunity equally as excited about collecting a ‘No’ or a ‘Yes’ because in her world, both lead her to the same place.

In a nutshell, I learned a very valuable sales lesson.  I learned to control the activity that I could control and to let the ‘Yes’s come to me.  We all get frustrated when we get on a stint of hearing ‘No.’  I would encourage you to apply the same practice as my friend did back in the eighties.  Place a dollar value on the ‘No’ and celebrate each and everyone because regardless of what the pundants say, Sales remains a game of numbers.  The more you step up and swing– the more you hit.

Good Selling,

Ken

P.S  Many of you have kindly asked about other ways to follow the blog.  Each post is placed on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Please feel free to follow, “Like” and connect to me and VanillaSoft.  The links are below and on our blog page and site VanillaSoft.  Thanks – Ken

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8 Responses to “The Power of ‘No’: An Inside Sales Person’s Hedge Against Failure”

  1. Pearl W.

    That certainly was an inspiring tale. I’m going to do exactly that- add a value to each no. Its definitely better than getting all worked up when I get a loooong string of No’s.

  2. Darryl Jackson

    This is what I have telling my sales people for years. Its all numbers. A frustrated young person asked me, “How many times do I have to get shut down?” I told him, “As many as it takes.” You call and call and call. The yes’s are in there. Sometimes I tell my team that the list is like a garden. You have to go through one plant at a time, and separate the weeds from the good plants. Its as simple as that.

  3. Kelly B.

    Thanks for the things you write here on your blog. I have read each one, and a few I have read more than once. I showed this one to my friend at the next desk, and I think it helped her shift her perspective on her current drought. Thanks again.

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