When “No” Really Means No Sale

There will be times when “no” really means there’s no sale to be made. It’s just part of selling. As a sales champion, it’s important to recognize a true “non-selling” situation as early as possible during interactions with others. That’s so you don’t waste their time or yours attempting to move forward in the sales process.

On those occasions when the “no” you hear is truly a final one, you still have a sale to make. This new sale is to win the opportunity to stay in touch with these folks. Their circumstances or needs may change in the future. Your goal, now that you’ve connected with them, is to stay top of mind if and when they need your particular product.

To get their permission to say in touch say something like this: “Sue, I understand that now is not the time for you to consider a product like mine. Should things change in the future, though, I’d like to be the one to serve your needs. May I have your permission to stay in touch with you every now and then? I promise not to be a pest. I’d just like to keep you informed of new developments that might be of interest to you.” Your goal, once again, is to keep the opportunity for the sale moving forward. Getting a commitment to revisit a potential client whose “no” means “not now” does just that.

Even in situations where a potential buyer is not going ahead but has interest, ask for referrals. Just because he or she aren’t in a position to purchase your product doesn’t mean they don’t know someone else who is. If people really do like what you’re selling, they’ll be open to suggesting it to others who might be more likely to make a purchase now. It happens all the time, but only when you ask.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. Let me help you and your sales team improve the results you’re getting. Share this post with others you know who are in sales. To learn more on this topic, read my book titled, When Buyers Say No.

The Triplicate of Choice for Money

I’m often asked how to eliminate money objections. The single best strategy I have is the triplicate of choice for money strategy.

Here’s how it goes: You suggest three different ranges of “investments” for your type of product. Then you ask the buyers what range feels most comfortable to them.

Most buyers will give you a range. Some will not. Those who don’t will say something like, “I don’t know what to expect in purchasing X because I’ve never considered it before.” And, those people will be handled differently. But, for those who already know about and/or own your type of product, the triplicate of choice is great for eliminating a money concern. By giving them a range of amounts up front–before you present–you will be able to adjust your presentation to deliver a product that suits their budget.

Here’s an example of what this strategy might sound like:

“Most people interested in acquiring this type of equipment with its standard options are prepared to invest $12,000. A fortunate few can invest between $15,000 and $20,000 which allows them to include all of the premium options. And then there are those on a limited or fixed budget who— with the high cost of everything today—can’t go higher than $10,000. May I ask, which of these categories does your company fit into most comfortably, Mary?”

“We were thinking of spending about $12,000.”

Why did she say that? In actual fact, Mary possibly didn’t have an exact amount in mind. She doesn’t want to be in the bottom category, so Mary opted for the middle figure.

I’ve structured the figures to allow me to say at this point, “What I’m excited about is this: the machine that meets all your minimum requirements involves an investment of only $10,000—substantially less than the amount you’re prepared to spend.” After you’ve completed your presentation and asked for the order, Mary can’t say “it costs too much” now, can she?

I’d still be okay if Mary had assigned her company to the lowest category. You see how it works. Structure this technique so that you come up a winner no matter what figure they pick. This is the best single strategy for eliminating the money as a potential objection later in the process. In fact, many sales are made at this point, it’s just a matter of presenting the product that’s best for them. You may not even have to concern yourself with addressing concerns or using closes that are typical of most selling situations.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Selling Value vs Price

As a sales professional, please realize the difference in selling value vs price. If you are selling a value-based product against a price-based product, trying to compete on price is a recipe for an unfulfilling sales career. People who make purchasing decisions primarily on price will encourage a bidding situation between competitors.

When selling value, you can avoid bidding situations by establishing your value proposition early in the sales appointment with a discovery question about their intentions: “Is the lowest investment your only consideration, or is quality also important?” You want to hear the buyer say something like “Price is important, but we also want the quality to be good.”

Later in the sales process, if the buyer hesitates on the investment for your product, you simply refer back to their earlier statement about value. “I’m sorry, I thought you said earlier that you were interested in both pricing and quality.”

“Well…yes.”

“Do you feel it is reasonable to pay the same for two different levels of quality?”

“Um…”

Remain calm because that earns you more negotiating time with the buyer. Sincerely ask about the buyer’s previous statement with the intention to understand. You want to discover what she is thinking at this point. If your buyer suggests your value-based product should be priced the same as your price-based competition, then you probably didn’t persuade her very well about the value of your product during the presentation.

The second way to avoid a bidding situation is refuse to participate. Let’s replay the example above. The buyer says, “Your bid is at $4,100 and your competitor’s bid is at $3,600. Match the competitor’s price or I will buy from them.”

You respond with, “I’ll be glad to see what we can do for you about lowering your investment. However, to ensure getting you the highest-quality product, I may not be able to match the competitor’s bid.”

Many buyers are so conditioned to deal in price, they are caught off guard. “Well, uh…why not?” your buyer asks.

That is your opportunity to affirm the value of your products. “Because there are too many ways to cut corners when the money is tight. We don’t believe in cutting corners. We charge enough to do the job right the first time.”

You’ve just planted a seed of insecurity in the buyer’s mind. She starts to wonder what she’ll lose in quality by playing the price game. You just reset the focus of the conversation from price back to value. If she is still in the conversation, she will probably say, “How low can you go?”

“I’ll check on it and get back to you as quickly as possible.” What you’ve just done here is to stall her from purchasing from the competition. If she’s really interested in how low you can go, she will wait for your answer before making any decisions.

The buyer may decide that value is a more important factor after all. Or the buyer may go ahead and buy from the competitor. But one thing the buyer won’t do is bid down your company and negatively affect your ability to move your product at a higher amount with other potential clients. You opted out of the bid-down situation, protected your margin structure, and made a powerful statement to the buyer about the value of your products. More important, you have made a powerful statement to yourself about the value of your products. Most salespeople “talk the talk” about the value of their products, but their actions betray their level of conviction when buyers squeeze them on price.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. and Tigran LLC.

Excerpted from When Buyers Say No. Order an autographed copy here for less than Amazon charges for the book: http://www.tomhopkins.com/p/1590.html 

7 Ways to Re-Think No / Selling Skills

MazeA big part of your job in sales is to be the person in the company who gets the “no’s.” My job as your sales coach is to provide you with ways to re-think no.

In the English language, the word “no’ can carry many meanings. It would be a financially costly mistake for you to assume that the meaning your buyers assign to the word “no” is the same as the meaning you assign to it. Some of the possible meanings of “no” are as follows:

  1. Lingering questions: In sales, the word “no” very often means that the buyers haven’t had all of their questions or concerns addressed yet. Perhaps they’re confused about how your product compares to that of the competition. That’s a challenge you must be prepared to address. A confused mind often says “no.” It’s an instinctive protective device of the human psyche. If buyers don’t see a clear way to go with regard to your product, they’ll put off making any kind of decision.
  2. Inadequate explanation of benefits: If you’ve done your job of qualifying your buyers and are confident that your product will indeed serve their needs well, a “no” just means you haven’t completed the client education process that’s inherent in selling. If this is the case, it’s not necessarily a flaw in your presentation. Different buyers need different amounts of information delivered in different ways before considering a decision.
    Generally speaking, it’s better to give too little information and have  buyers ask for more (in this case, by saying “no”) than to give too much information and lose buyers on the basis of information overload or boredom. Trust your instincts during your presentations and close when you feel buyers have enough information to make an educated decision. If buyers consistently ask for more information after your initial closing attempt, then it is time to make an adjustment in your presentation.
  3. Additional discovery is required: A “no” may mean that you need to investigate further to determine what aspect of your presentation wasn’t clear. Remember, a confused mind says no. You may need to be more direct and persuasive during your presentations.
  4. A misstep in qualification: You may need to go back to the qualifying or needs identification step in the sales process to be certain you are presenting the right product for their situation. This “no” may be due to you missing something when you were identifying needs earlier in the sales appointment. It also may be due to a buyer being unclear as to his or her true needs. Because your presentation was effective in educating the buyer on what you incorrectly understood to be the appropriate product or service, the buyer may say “no” to your initial offering. The buyer may not be aware that you carry another product that will meet their newly-realized needs. Only with further conversation can you discover this epiphany and then present the better product.
  5. Unrevealed questions/objections: Perhaps the buyer hasn’t told you everything yet about their circumstances as to needs and their ability to afford what you’re offering. What? Don’t buyers tell you everything up front that you need to know to offer a win-win opportunity and close the sale? Sometimes this is merely an issue of trust. After buyers say “no” is one of the most powerful times to build trust.
    As mentioned above, buyers are often unaware of their real objections and questions until they start to become educated about the products and services that provide solutions. Or, perhaps they like the product but not the financial terms you’re offering. The point is that by using the proper selling skills, tools, and strategies in the correct manner, you can continue to move the sale forward despite initial reluctance from buyers
  6. Timing: Their “no” might just be a way of slowing the sales process down. It might mean “no, not right now.” Good timing is important when you make purchases, so why wouldn’t it be important to your buyers? By discussing options in timing, you may discover a time-frame that is quite agreeable to your buyers even if it isn’t for today.
  7. No, not you: With some buyers the “no” you hear could even mean “no, not you.” Please realize that with some product sales the buyers don’t just buy the product—they’re buying future involvement with you. In many cases, the sales person becomes the key connection between buyers and the company and they may just not have been “sold” on you. They may not feel comfortable with your ability to serve their needs. You always have to demonstrate your own level of competence right along with demonstrating your product’s benefits. Remember, people like to do business with people they like. It’s an important part of your job in the sales process to help them to like you and to trust you, so they’ll listen to what you have to say – to take your advice and want to be involved with you in a long-term business relationship.

There are many reasons that potential clients might say “no” but lack of interest is probably not one of them. Disinterested people won’t waste their time meeting with sales people and listening to presentations. So, when you have their attention, it’s because they’re truly interested in knowing if you, your company and your product can resolve an issue or challenge they’re having. The job falls to you to identify or discover what their needs and expectations are as they relate to your product or service.

You are the only one who can ultimately determine what each “no” means in every one of your selling situations. You do that by keeping the conversation alive through the use of precisely-crafted questions. By mining the information you need to know in order to determine if and how you can help them, you’ll close more sales that previously would have gone by the wayside.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. Excerpted from When Buyers Say No by Tom Hopkins & Ben Katt. We match or beat Amazon’s investments on Tom Hopkins’ books.

Get Buyers to Answer Their Own Concerns

The most important “do” of addressing concerns is: Get the other person to answer his own objection. That advice may sound tricky to follow, but here’s why it’s so important: You’re trying to persuade your prospect, so he’ll be likely to have reservations about anything you do or say. Why? Because anything you say must be good for you, too. Until the prospect realizes that you’re acting in his best interest, he will doubt you.

When you say it, a prospective client tends to doubt it. When he says it, the buyer believes it to be true. And that’s why you want to get your prospect to answer his own objections — because he’s much more likely to believe himself than he is to believe you. All you need to do is provide the information that answers his concern and let him draw his own conclusions. You let him persuade himself.

35053You may need to nudge a client a little by asking a question to get him to state the desired answer: “How do you see that feature impacting your company’s level of efficiency, Josh?” It’s much more powerful when he answers than if you just say, “That feature will increase your company’s efficiency by 20 percent.” See the difference? Take advantage of the strategy, and you’ll close more sales because your clients will be convincing themselves.

This technique often works well when you persuade a married couple (children, take note). When one partner objects to something, don’t respond immediately. Average persuaders are quick to defend their offering. But there’s a better way: Learn to sit tight. Many times, one spouse jumps in with the next comment, and you have a 50/50 chance that the originally silent spouse will answer the objection for you. If the second spouse agrees with his partner’s objection, then you know you’ll have to work a little harder to overcome it. The point is that these two people already have a positive relationship (you hope) and trust each other’s judgment. Being quiet while they think it through can cause the objection to evaporate into thin air right before your eyes.

When something important to you is hanging in the balance, being patient is difficult. During such moments, seconds feel like hours, and you can quickly become very uncomfortable. To keep yourself from jumping in too soon, try this trick. Silently count to 20 or 30. Or you may want to count the seconds by saying to yourself, “one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three,” and so on. (Just remember to count to yourself, not aloud.) Some salespeople recite a short poem to themselves to kill that time. Just don’t let your mind wander off from the matter at hand. Whatever method you choose, just be careful not to let them see your lips move.

What you never want to do when you’re waiting for a response is look at your watch or at a clock in the room. Even a slight glance at a timepiece can distract the prospects because they’re already looking at you, waiting for your next move. So practice waiting until you’re comfortable with it.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. Excerpted from Selling for Dummies, 4th Edition (Wiley).

Hearing No is Part of Getting to Yes

Champion sales people understand that hearing no is part of getting to yes. Average sales people let every nuance of the word no strike them like arrows and deflate the rest of their sales presentations. Think about how the following comments by potential clients make you feel:

056BZC01“Well, Jim, that new equipment you showed me sure is nice, but unfortunately I’m just going to have to say, ‘no.’”

“We appreciate all the information you’ve shared with us, Mary, but we’re not going to do this right now.”

Those are typical words and phrases sales people hear all day long, every selling day. For average sales people those words signal defeat. The gut reaction experienced when hearing them is an immediate one—of failure and rejection—something sales people go through on a regular basis.

In fact, since rejections are so common, it’s a wonder that so few sales people anticipate hearing them and prepare to deflect the negative feelings they can create. Most sales people just accept those words and the feelings they generate as part of the game of selling.

How often you hear the words and phrases like those above will depend on your abilities and skills as a sales person. But what you do and say after hearing them will make a world of difference in your closing ratio and in your personal bottom line.

Getting to “Yes”

This post is about “yes.” But the starting point is “no.”

The truth of the matter in selling is that very few buyers will say “yes” the first time they’re asked to own a product or service. Yet, the irony is that most sales people are willing to give up and accept rejection after hearing that first “no.”

Think about how you would feel if you heard the words at the beginning of this post.

  • Would you feel the physical effect of disappointment? It’s that sinking, let down feeling. It can be a tired feeling as your formerly pumped-up selling emotions trickle down the drain.
  • Would you mentally stop closing and simply move into “Let’s keep in touch”mode where you decide what to leave behind, what to pack away, and about moving on to your next meeting?
  • Would you say, “That’s okay.” “I understand.” Or, “I’ll touch back just in case you change your mind?”

That’s how average sales people respond. So my question to you today is this: Do you want to be average – or do you want to encourage yourself to become better than that?

There’s a whole lotta selling to be done after you hear the word no. It’s just a matter of understanding the many meanings of the word no, selecting the one this particular client means, and working with it.

When you understand that “no” doesn’t always mean “no sale,” those words will roll off your back like a duck sheds water and you’ll keep paddling forward in the sales process.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Wiping the Slate Clean in Sales

clean slateAs part of the sales process, you might need to resort to a strategy of wiping the slate clean with your potential clients. Much of the decision process is based on past buying experiences. If your buyer made a purchase of a product similar to yours and was unhappy with it you face a double-edged sword. On one side, they are unhappy with your competitor’s product which makes them a pretty good candidate for yours. On the other side, their bad past experience may make them hesitant to even try your type of product again. [Read more…]

Real Estate Concerns: “We wanted another bedroom.”

Real estate agent with coupleWhat do you say when you hear this one? “The home is very nice, but we  really wanted another bedroom.”

When they say this, what does it really tell you? They don’t need that extra room. They were really hoping for it, but the odds are good, since you did a good job of qualifying that both you and they know they can’t afford a home with that extra bedroom.

Your job now is one of asking questions to help them gain a more realistic view of their situation. Try these words, “John and Mary, I know when we first talked you were hoping to find a home in this neighborhood where you could possibly have an extra bedroom. Knowing inventory the way I do, I’m afraid there just isn’t one available in your price range. If you’re open to considering a different neighborhood, or school district for the children, I might be able to find a nice home with the extra bedroom. I would be happy to research that for you, but have to ask, what will you base your final decision on: having that extra bedroom or having your children attend the schools you (and they) prefer?”

In most cases, the quality of the children’s education will far outweigh having that extra room that they were “hoping” for. Of course, if you work in an area with an open enrollment, perhaps the parents would be happy to drive their children to the better schools and live a little farther away in order to have that extra room. [Read more…]

Dealing with the Competition

We are in some very competitive times. People are hesitant to make buying decisions so businesses are making previously unheard of offers to get whatever slice of the market pie they can. If any of your clients tell you they’re considering doing business with the competition, you need to be prepared.

If you’re at the top of your game, you constantly act as if each and every client may consider making a change at any time. In other words: If you want to keep them as clients, treat them like gold. If you do, they’ll find it difficult to part with you and your high level of service even if the competition comes in with a better offer on a similar product.

If you’re prepared to hear an inkling of change, you’ll come across like the true expert you are rather than someone scrambling to keep their business. You’ll want to fight a clean fight with the competition, but never give up a client without a fight! [Read more…]

Overcoming the Word “No”

Everyone sells, one way or another. As parents, we sell our children on our belief systems and our values. In courtship, we sell ourselves to our prospective partners. At work, we sell ourselves every day to our employers and our co-workers.

However, there’s something keeping us from doing the best job of selling in every situation. It’s the fear of rejection. And, rejection most often comes in the shape of one of the smallest words in the English language–“no.” Isn’t it amazing how such a small word can have such a huge impact on us? [Read more…]