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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

When No Doesn’t Mean No

Written By: Michael Luchies Katie Sowa | No Comments

NoEntrepreneurs are a rare breed and face situations on a daily basis that most people and professions rarely experience.  Like an actor, author, or a door-to-door salesman, entrepreneurs often face rejection and hear the word no, especially when it comes to their sales pitch.  Successful entrepreneurs can turn a no into a positive opportunity.

Even turning a no into a probably not is a step in the right direction that can lead to a sale or another lead that you may be ignoring by accepting a no that doesn’t really mean no.

Most of us know someone that is hard headed and sometimes even obnoxious, who never takes no for an answer, regardless of the situation.  There is a reason that the persistent guy at the bar ends up with the girl at the end of the night, and it isn’t always because he is the smoothest or best looking – he just refuses to take a soft no as the final answer.

Let’s stop there to stress that not accepting no as an answer is not a license to badger or aggressively sell to someone who really isn’t interested in what you have to offer.  The right approach is to get the most out of a prospect or new introduction while keeping your dignity and reputation.

So when does no mean no, and when does it mean something else?

Let’s first look at how someone says no based on the most common types of objections.

–        No thank you

–        I’m not interested

–        I have to talk to: my wife, the boss, my business partner, etc.

–        Maybe some other time

–        I don’t have the money

–        Could you just give me some information on it and let me go?

–        I already have one

–        I don’t have a need for that type of product or service

Adjusting Your Pitch

An objection can be used to your advantage.  If someone says, “I don’t have the money,” instead of just saying thanks and walking away, offer a free trial, let them know about a special offer or referral program, or give them something for free in exchange for referring a friend or family member.  Don’t think of it as ‘not taking no for an answer,’ simply adjust your pitch to gain something out of the interaction instead of giving up.  Here are several ways to adjust your pitch and respond to the common objections covered above:

No thank you

This is one of the simplest but toughest objections to counter.  If this comes up, respond “I do appreciate your time. What is something that I could help you with?” This will take them by surprise and possibly keep the conversation open.  They listened to your pitch, so the least you can do in return is offer to help them with something. 

Not interested

“Do you know of anyone who would be interested?  I would really appreciate an introduction.”  “Thanks for your time, would you mind taking my card and contacting me if you can think of anyone who is interested or if you change your mind?”  “May I ask why and if there is anything I could do to make you more comfortable with this product/service/company/etc.?”

I have to talk to

“Not a problem. Would you mind introducing me to them?” “There is no rush, but we do have a special offer if you respond by….” “Could I have their contact information to follow up with them about this?”

Maybe some other time

“Would you be willing to set up a follow-up time to talk?”  “Great, when would be the best time to follow up with you about this?” “We are offering a discount through this next week, can I contact you just before the deadline?”

I don’t have the money

“Are you interested in a free trial?” Depending on the nature of your product/service/company, the information that they don’t have the funds may open up another possible talking point and opportunity.

Could you just give me some information on it?

This is common when you have outstayed your welcome and someone simply wants to end the conversation.  Try, “Sure, but we do have a special that ends ….Can I follow up with you before that offer ends?” This leaves the door open for future conversations if you can set up a call when they would have more time to talk about the opportunity.

I already have one

Although they may be saying this to get you to leave them alone, ask for their honest feedback or if they would refer it to someone they know.

I don’t have a need for that type of product

Get to the why of the situation to adjust your pitch for the current conversation or to be better prepared the next time this arises. “Can I give you the information in case your situation changes?” “Do you know anyone who may be interested in this?”

Summary

Although countering objections is an extremely important part of your pitch, try to get as much information up front as possible to approach the situation in a way that will avoid the objection altogether.

Pitching past objections is not always easy, but it can be vital to success.  Most people you encounter will respect you for trying your hardest – as long as you are not forcing them into a deal or purchase that they are not ready for.   Take every objection not as a failed sales pitch, but as an opportunity to land a new referral, strengthen a contact, or perfect your pitch.

So what do you think? Which one of these are you going to try? Do you have any to add? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Article written by
Michael Luchies is co-founder of PitchJam, freelance journalist, and the National Growth and Programs Manager of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO). Aside from being part of several startups over the past decade, Michael has a B.S. in Entrepreneurship from Bradley University and was the CEO of 2010 winner of the Springboard Business Plan Competition, Toldmi.   Katie Sowa is a co-founder of PitchJam and the Director of Operations for the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization (CEO). She's worked in numerous startups and alongside entrepreneurs from around the world, and is now helping take the art of the pitch to the next level.