Customer Experience News & Trends

7 ways to turn a customer ‘no’ into a ‘yes’

Some salespeople look for an exit right after prospects say “no” to an initial closing attempt. Others take a negative answer personally and push to reverse it. In other words, they switch from being helpful salespeople to determined opponents, raising the resistance level of prospects. 

A better approach

A better approach may be to accept the early “no” as a challenge and take steps to re-establish rapport with the prospect to get the sale back on track. Prospects may feel awkward after turning down a request to close the sale. They may want the sales process to end and hope the salesperson will leave.

It’s up to salespeople to assure prospects that the initial “no” does not mean the end of your selling efforts.

Re-establish rapport

The first step after hearing the initial “no” is to re-establish rapport. It may be a good idea to use short statements that let the prospect know it’s OK that he or she didn’t immediately say “yes.”

It allows a salesperson to buy extra time for leading the prospect back into the sales process. The prospect may relax and allow a salesperson to move on to the next step of reviewing his or her needs, and determining what might have been missed on the first go-around.

Remain professional

Remaining professional during the uncomfortable period when a buyer says “no” may help  re-establish rapport. Salespeople who become tense or allow their facial expressions to reflect their disappointment and impatience may have little chance of getting the sale back on track.

When you don’t know

When you don’t know what’s holding the prospect back, it’s like trying to put your arms around a ghost. There’s nothing solid for you to grab hold of. The only thing that is certain is that the dynamic of your interaction with the prospect changes after that initial “no.”

Here are seven tips to help you get the sale back on track:

  1. Listen carefully to discover all the questions and concerns that stop prospects from saying “yes.” They have listened to your presentation, and now are making a mini-presentation in response. Give them a chance to express themselves. They may feel better for getting their thoughts out in the open — especially if they believe you’re listening. You will learn more about what’s stopping them from taking immediate action.
  2. Restate their questions and concerns before answering. Prospects don’t always say what they mean. Restating allows them to hear their own words. In some cases, when prospects hear what’s holding them back, they may answer their own concerns.
  3. Find agreement. When you agree with the prospect on some aspect of his or her objections, you create an atmosphere in which you may uncover areas that are holding up the sale. Every subject you discuss during this part of the sales process may lead the prospect closer to a “yes.”
  4. Confirm that prospects have stated all of their concerns. It’s your job to persuade prospects to take immediate action. So gather all the concerns you can before you begin providing answers. This isn’t an interrogation. You are the prospect’s consultant and you want to help him or her reach an informed decision.
  5. Ask the prospect to take immediate action. Some prospects make decisions quickly and calmly. Others wrestle with the process. Whenever you finish addressing questions and concerns, always end by asking the prospect to take immediate action.
  6. Be ready to offer more encouragement. What do you do when you have addressed all the questions and concerns, asked the prospect to make a decision, and he or she still remains silent? If the prospect doesn’t agree with the solution you present or raises another concern, address it.
  7. Close the sale today. Not next week or next month. What do you have to do to close the sale today? You have devoted your time and energy to meet with the prospect. You have asked every question and delivered every statement needed for the prospect to make an educated decision. Put the same effort into creating your closing statements/questions as you did in preparing the rest of your presentation, and you’ll hear “yes” more often.

Adapted from: When Buyers Say No, by Tom Hopkins and Ben Katt. Hopkins is one of the leading authorities on selling techniques. Katt is a sales consultant and trainer.

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