Hooray! The Client Said No!
By Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz
You walk out of the office; shoulders
slumped and head hanging low. The meeting did not go the way you had
hoped. Shoving through the glass doors and exiting the
building you heave a sigh, the words of your prospect still ringing
in your ears, “No, we’re going to pass.” Motivation is dwindling
fast. For a moment, you think about blowing off your last
appointment of the day and heading back to the office and in favor
of catching up on paperwork.
But what if it didn’t have to be this
way? Imagine getting a “no” from a prospect and then pushing
through those same doors happy, excited and energized. Imagine
actually thinking to yourself, “Hooray, the client said no!” In
order to tap into the “power of no” there are five key strategies
you can apply today.
1) Change your mental model of “success”
and “failure.” Most people
operate with the following mental model:
SUCCESS (Yes) <-- <--
YOU --> -->
They see themselves in the middle, with
success on one end and failure on the other. They do everything they
can to move toward success and away from failure. But, what if that
model was wrong? What if that model was reconfigured?
FAILURE (No) --> -->
What if, rather than seeing failure as
something to be avoided, it became a “stepping stone” on the path to
success? Put another way: Yes is the destination, but “no” is how
you get there. To achieve significant success in today’s world, top
performers do not see success and failure – yes and no – as
opposites, rather opposite sides of the same coin that depend on
2) Intentionally increase your “failure
rate” – go for “no”! There is
a story about a young man who asked Tom Watson, the prominent
CEO of IBM, how he could be more successful. Watson responded,
“Double your failure rate.” Watson wasn’t trying to be funny.
is, to a large degree, a numbers game. As such, one of the fastest
ways to increase your success is to intentionally increase your
failure rate. In other words, increase the number of times you hear
prospects say “no” to you. Of course, increasing the number of
times you hear “no” will eventually increase the number of times you
3) Create “no-awareness” by counting your
“no’s”. Here’s a question for
you: How many total “no’s” did you personally obtain yesterday?
Last week? Last month? How many for the year? Do you know? Well,
Most people, if they actually counted the
number of times they hear “no” during a typical day or week, would
be shocked to see how low that number actually is. If you don’t
know your number, it’s time for you to start counting every “no” you
hear, because the very act of counting your “no’s” will increase
your “no-awareness” and that, in turn, will enhance your “no-focus.”
4) Celebrate your failures, not just your
successes. When was the last
time you rewarded yourself for failing? Probably never! That needs
It’s natural to be excited about our
successes and to celebrate them, to reward ourselves for the
achievement. But, if the key to success is to increase your failure
rate, then it only makes sense to celebrate your setbacks, too!
When someone turns you down, celebrate it! Instead of mentally
punishing yourself for not succeeding, buy yourself an ice cream
cone and say, “That ‘no’ put me one step closer to success!” If you
did, maybe failure – and the word no – would no longer have negative
hold on your thoughts and emotions.
5) “No” doesn’t mean never, it means not
yet. Woody Allen said that 80
percent of success is simply showing up. While the power of showing
up should not be underestimated, the reality is that showing up – in
and of itself – is usually not enough. The key to success is to
show up, and then to keep showing up! In a word: persistence.
Is this to suggest that when someone
keeps telling you “no” you should stay at it forever? No. Though
Winston Churchill famously declared one should never, never, never
quit… knowing when to quit is an important skill. The problem is
most people think that time has come long before it actually has!
How do you know the perfect time to
quit? Unfortunately, there is not a definitive number of “no’s” at
which one should throw his/her hands up and go home – after all,
every situation and every prospect is different. So the answer
always begins with an analysis as to whether the person you’re
trying to sell to is a qualified buyer. If they are unqualified
(they neither want nor need what you have to offer), then you should
pack it up and move on. However, if they do need what you’ve got –
even if they don’t want it yet – then pursue them for as long as it
So the next time you walk out of a
prospect’s office having collected another “no,” remember these five
key points and say, “Hooray! I just got a no!” Because when you
increase your failure rate and go for “no,” the “yeses” will
eventually come… they always do!
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