When Is It Time For Salespeople To Push Past No?
“Get your ass to Iowa and don’t come back unless you have a deal.”
Garth, my sales guy on the John Deere account knew I wasn’t screwing around when I said it. It was my first sales leadership job and my ass was on the line – this deal had the potential to be huge and take us to the next level. It wasn’t just my ass on the line, it was all of ours, and I had to make it crystal clear to this guy: Do NOT screw this up. Do NOT come back until you have the deal tied up in a bow with a kiss from grandma. Do NOT take “no” for an answer.
After finessing that deal in corn country for a week, guess what, we got it. But sometimes I wonder if the classic “don’t take no for an answer” sales mantra still works now. My conclusion is yes, no, and maybe.
When To Keep Pushing
No. Not interested. Maybe later. I’ll take a message. We don’t have the money. We’re not in the market. It’s not my decision. These objections are all opportunities for the legendary sales guy to sharpen his or her skills.
As a salesperson, there are many ways for you to get creative and use that brilliant brain of yours to convince the buyer that you provide needed value.
Of course you’ll come correct by being armed with an arsenal of knowledge on the prospect: including their pain points, market share, goals, strengths, culture, and competitors. If you’ve done your homework you can use this knowledge as leverage and plowing through the front lines will be a cakewalk. If you continue to face a wall of “no”, it may come down to these brass tacks:
1) You Know Something the Buyer Doesn’t Know
In the case that the buyer isn’t educated enough to make the right decision, it’s your job to take him or her to school. For example, if you’re in logistics sales and you know you can save the buyer 20 percent, it’s almost like you have an obligation to because it’s in their interest. If they’re still giving you push back, maybe you need to call somebody else in from their organization such as a supervisor or other department head who will better understand the value you can provide. Don’t stop until you feel you and your product have been seriously vetted.
2) You Can’t Afford Not To
If your back’s against the wall because you have few prospects in your pipeline then keep fighting – just remember to maintain your integrity.
When to Walk Away
The internet revolutionized a lot of things since the 90s, including sales. Buyers often prefer to self-educate and most likely have vetted their options on the market before you even get a word in. If you find yourself facing a wall of “no” in this situation, you probably won’t get too far.
1) When You Have Bigger Fish to Fry
If you have better prospects in your pipeline then, by all means, cut the fat. As salespeople we have a tendency to be overachievers, but when trying to win ’em all means spreading yourself too thin and winning nothing, you’ve got a problem.
2) When It’s Taking Too Long
There’s a timing element – a rhythm – to a successful deal. One time we lost a sale after it had dragged on for over nine months to a company that swooped in last minute. If your pitch gets stale, at some point you have to give into no, if just to step back and do something different. In fact, I’m a firm believer that sales guys should walk away from more deals.
So, Should I Keep Pushing?
Maybe. Have you racked your brain for every possible way to communicate value? Have you spoken to the right people who will understand and be receptive to the value you can provide? If you have, then, being a denizen of the modern world, I would err on the side of walking away and finding a better idea. At the same time, I’d send Garth back out to Iowa in a minute just to show them how an old school sales guy handles business.
Photo courtesy of John Deere.
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