NO Gets You Closer To YES

In a recent conversation with a group of sales people, we were discussing the personal impact of being told ‘No!’ over and over again by prospects.  There is no doubt that it takes its toll.  We try to be tough, to have thick skin or treat it like water off a ducks back, and all of those other clichés.  The problem though is that we are human, with real human feelings and as tough as you think you are the negativity can seep into your subconscious, which is also a very real thing!

Sales and marketing concepts overlap in many ways but here is one that I believe is particularly relevant: The number of contacts that are required before a buying decision is influenced.  In marketing, it’s generally accepted that a consumer needs at least 7 or 8 brand contacts and maybe as many as ten or more before their buying decision is influenced.  In sales, the same concept applies.  A sales person will need, on average, 7-10 direct contacts before a buying decision is made.  There are of course situations, and sales people, that close more often.  Then again, there are a lot that will take more as well.

So how do we, as sales people, handle all those rejections?  Our subconscious tells us to give up because it can’t take the abuse of rejection over and over.  We must be able to turn the tables and see the positive side of it.

I use an exercise that will work in most businesses, and that is to work backwards from your end goal to help dictate your level of activity.  Let’s say you want to do $100,000 in sales, and your average sale is $1,000.  You will have to close 100 deals to hit your goal.  Let’s assume you close 50% of the jobs you quote – you’ll have to quote 200 jobs to get 100 deals done.  If you get to quote 25% of your leads, you will need 800 leads. If only 1 in 10 calls result in a lead, you will need to make 8,000 calls.  To come full circle – each call you make, whether you get a yes or a no is worth $12.50 ($100,000 in sales/8,000 calls).  There are two main points to this exercise.  The first is to remind yourself that the right activity, whether you get a lead or rejected, makes you money.  It’s just about averages.  Every time you make a call it’s worth money to you, so be persistent!  The second is to remain positive.  Again, it’s all about the averages.  When you hear “No” just say to yourself (as if you were saying it to the prospect) “Thank you very much for saying no!  Every time you say no, I get that much closer to my next yes!  And you can say no again tomorrow and the day after, but eventually you are going to say yes!”  You will convince your sub-conscious that success is only a matter of a few more calls.  Fine tune your approach – a rejection just means you haven’t fully addressed the prospects needs.  Of course, all this is dependent on you being polite, courteous and respectful – rude people rarely get very far!

This is a practical concept, but the point is to maintain a positive attitude, don’t let the rejection get the best of you.  It is only temporary.  Be tenacious and remind yourself often that every ‘no’ just gets you closer to your next ‘yes’.  Be grateful for it!

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How to avoid employee resentment

What’s the best way to get employees to buy into an idea?  Even more than that: how do we get them to listen and engage without any resentment?

A lesson I learned early from my mentor is the concept of an emotional bank account.  The concept is simple: make more meaningful deposits than you do withdrawals.

I had a general manager at one of my businesses who would complain to me that while he wanted to be strict to keep the staff in line, he felt like it was “babysitting” and all he got back in return was grief, disobedience and resentment.  Doesn’t sound like a happy workplace!  My message to him was clear: make some deposits before you withdraw. An emotional deposit can be done right with a withdrawal, but it’s usually better to build up those deposits over time.  It helps you establish emotional credibility so when you need to make that withdrawal, you have the balance available.

If you spend too much time only making corrective actions, or disciplining for unwanted behaviour, all of your people’s accounts will be over-drawn; and honestly, the ones that aren’t will be against you just by your reputation.

The deposits should be easy, but are often difficult for some managers to do.  Catch your people doing something well, provide plenty of positive reinforcement and recognize them for their accomplishments.  It puts them in a better mood and will almost certainly improve performance in the short term.  If this becomes a pattern of behaviour your emotional balance grows.  The next time there needs to be discipline applied, it will be much easier to take. Just remember to make more deposits!

Do you have a story where you have made those deposits and the tougher discipline conversation has been much easier as a result? Please share!