In sales, we get used to getting a lot of noes, but as a trainer of sales professionals, managers, and teams it isn’t the noes that we get that concerns me.
In fact, it’s all the noes that we don’t get because prospect—whether consciously or unconsciously—decides to give us a non-answer that lies somewhere in that hazy grey area, a.k.a. Fifty Shades of Nay.
- “I gotta think about it”
The no that makes us think they really are considering giving us a yes.
- “We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing”
The no that makes us think they seriously did consider giving us a yes.
- “I’ll run it up the flag pole”
The no that tricks us into thinking they are going to bat for us.
- “Lemme get back to you”
The no that makes us think we are a serious contender.
- “The timing just isn’t right”
The no that makes us think it’s not us, it’s them.
- “I’m a ways out”
The no that makes us think we have a chance.
- “I’ve been too busy to take a look at that”
The no that makes us think that we may have a chance.
The no that makes us wonder at what point we stopped having any chance at all.
- “It keeps getting put on the back burner”
The no that makes us think that the prospect is busier than we are.
- “Your pitch was great, probably the best we’ve ever seen, but…”
The no that makes us feel good about ourself.
- “It looks really great, but…”
The no that makes us feel good about our product or service.
- “Mr. So-and-so is in a meeting”
The no that makes us feel like we are being persistent—in a good way.
- “Corporate isn’t cooperating”
The no that gives us someone else to blame.
- “It’s too bad you can’t beat our current pricing”
The no that makes us mad at our company’s pricing structure.
- “It’s not in the budget this year”
The no that creates more work for us by putting a useless fact in the CRM.
- “We haven’t set our budget yet for next year”
The no that gives us more hope and useless information—a dangerous combo.
- [See #15]
The no that frustrates us because we thought we caught them in time this year; oh well, we will try again next year.
- “I’m good, thanks”
The no that convinces us they are fine because, well, we do the same thing to the door-to-door guy.
- “I’ll call you if I change my mind”
The no that makes us craft really *memorable* voicemail greetings because this time they probably will call.
- “We’re covered”
The no that makes us try to show them how they aren’t indeed covered as well as they would be, if we could just convince them.
- “Got a website I can look at?”
The no that makes us hound IT for a snappier www; and my contact info better be on it!
- “Can you just send me the information?”
The no that makes us intentionally ignore the obvious irony that we throw out so much junk mail.
- “You aren’t working with anyone in our industry…”
The no that gives us tunnel vision for who we should be calling.
- “You are working with too many of our competitors…”
The no that convinces us we shouldn’t serve too many competitors or our current clients will get mad.
- “I know where to find you if anything changes”
The no than makes us email them our contact information 17 times.
- “Can you check back in a month?”
The no that makes us jump.
- “Can you check back next quarter?”
The no that makes us dance.
- “Can you check back next year”
The no that makes us sing.
- “We are about to be going through some internal changes”
The no that makes us blame the company for not having their sh** together.
- “We just went through some major changes”
The no that makes us blame the company for really not having their sh** together.
- “I’m new to the department”
The no that makes us wish he wasn’t.
- “The board is being difficult”
The no that makes us hate boards of directors.
- “Really wish I could, but…”
The no that makes us wish the prospect could grow a spine.
- “Summer is not a good time”
The no that makes us curse the summer solstice.
- “Back to school is not a good time”
The no that makes us wish the USA had year-round-school.
- “The holidays are just not a good time”
The no that makes us turn into Scrooge.
- “Business is too slow, we are thinking of laying people off”
The no that makes us have lots of empathy—too much empathy—for the prospect.
- “All of our people are wearing too many hats right now”
The no that confuses us; wait, doesn’t that mean you have lots of money to spend with me?
- “I just don’t know how to make it work”
The no that makes us want to call the prospect an idiot and shake him until he sees how easy we will make it for him.
- “We don’t want to make any changes right now”
The no that makes us shake our collective heads wishing they could see how desparately they need to change.
- “We are definitely going to look at this again sometime in the future”
The no that excites us thinking about our future, imaginable, mythical commission check.
- “I really wish I could but I can’t”
The no that makes us wish our prospects knew how to stand up for what they believe in.
- “I can’t justify the expense”
The no that makes us scream “you can afford not to, you a**hat”
- “If only you could meet our current vendor’s [terms, pricing, delivery, etc.] this would be perfect”
The no that makes us dance like a monkey at the circus.
- “There’s just too many chefs in the kitchen”
The clichéd no that makes us wonder what they really mean.
- “Too many irons in the fire”
The other clichéd no that makes us wonder what they really mean.
- “We have too many chiefs, not enough Indians”
The other, other clichéd no that makes us wonder what they really mean.
- “You were a close second, almost tied, really”
The no that makes us pat ourselves on the back because we’ll get ‘em next time.
- “If it were up to me, I would have picked you”
The no that makes us pat ourselves on the back because maybe they’ll come around.
- “I’ll see what I can do”
The no that makes us pat ourselves on the back because we really believe they are working on it.
Have you experienced any of these before? Have you experienced getting your hopes up, getting your dreams dashed, and getting frustrated with the prospect? When we create the environment that accepts these shades of nay as possible outcomes of a selling situation, we are setting ourselves—and the prospect—up for long drawn out selling cycles, painful prospecting, and getting into a tug-o’-war over price and terms.
If you are getting any of these shades of nay, my hope is you will understand you are really getting a no. A slow and painful no, but a no nevertheless.
This situation we find ourselves in, as sales professionals, is often one of dysfunction, and unequal stature. The prospect has us wound tightly around his finger so long as he wants information from us but as soon as it comes time to make a decision, we get a murky, evasion tactic masquerading as hope in the future.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Fill out the contact form here to learn how you can break away from getting shades of nay and lock down actual yeses or noes from your prospects.
What other shades of nay have you experienced?