Saying no


Yes!  Isn't this what sales is all about?  Say yes and find a way..getting to yesbooks have been written about this very topic.  Indeed, Dale Carnegie recommends that every sales call starts by asking questions that establish a pattern of yes responses.

So, is there a place for no?  Besides client objections and push back that is.  As sales professionals, when should we be saying no?

It sounds counter intuitive, doesn't it, because we spend so much time and effort uncovering problems to which we hope we can provide the solution to.  But if you've ever worked with a client that has cost you more time, effort and money than they're worth, you'll know the power of saying no.

In fact, saying no is a sign of strength in selling.  And like any muscle, your no muscle must be exercised regularly in order to strengthen it.  It's just a matter of knowing when to apply it.

Each company may have a slightly different or more unique set of guidelines than the ones I've outlined below, but the principles are likely to be very similar because there are some standards to ensure you see the red flags and raise the no in a great way, sooner than later with the relationship intact.

  1. There is a clash of values
    If your client is in an industry that you find immoral or they conduct themselves in a way that is contradictory to the way you treat your team and stakeholders, there will be problems at some point.
    Establish some questions or do some research with current clients or suppliers to get a sense of who you're meeting with so you can begin to understand what you need to explore further.

  2. Mutual value will be difficult
    Whenever there is a win/lose scenario, it's a good idea to walk away. If your prospect or client expects you to deliver work in a way or at a price that means there is little upside for you, it could be a sign of things to come! Similarly, if you can't deliver a service or product in a way or at a price that will work for the client, there's no fit. Entering into a contract of partnership is the aim. It must be valuable for both parties both in the short and long term.

  3. Client expectations and reality are poles apart
    Setting expectations of the way forward is essential. Understanding what your client's vision for the relationship is important to establish before anything is proposed. For example, if they expect a daily phone call or onsite presence when that's not going to be sustainable throughout the engagement it must be discussed and evaluated to assess if it's a nice to have or core for them. Alignment between delivery and expectations must be established upfront.

  4. You've been asked to deliver a service or product that isn't core for your business
    How many times have you thought to yourself: "maybe I can do this, it's not THAT much of a stretch.." As soon as you go down this path, smack yourself. It will end in tears yours mostly. Stick to what you're best at and recommend another expert. Your reputation, your credibility and your sanity relies on it.

  5. Scope creep is starting
    So you've agreed on terms, but once you get into the campaign, the client starts to ask for little bits here and there..While this may be okay from time to time, just watch how much this happens. It will eat margin fast, and set unrealistic expectations next project in terms of what they can expect for their investment. Be clear, be professional, and always frame the conversation around what you agreed to. If they value you, they'll pay for going beyond the scope of the original agreement.

Tips from John Buchanan, Beyond 19, Coaching Practicing Lead:

1. While it is very important to respect the client and your relationship, respect yourself first your values, your principles, your cornerstones and your time.
2. Be sincere, honest and authentic do not compromise, or worse sacrifice your values and principles in the chase for a sale.

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