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Don’t Be Afraid of the Big Bad No

 min read
Don’t Be Afraid of the Big Bad No

Don’t Be Afraid of the Big Bad No

The word No gets a bad rap in the sales world. And I suppose deservedly so. It is the last thing a salesperson wants to hear from a prospective customer. What’s interesting is that it’s typically NOT what the salesperson actually hears. As it turns out, prospects don’t like the word very much either. Rather than just come out and say it, they veil it in lots of other words to avoid using such a bad word and in the process make themselves feel better for not using it. They’ll say things like

“This isn’t a priority for us right now.” No.

“We don’t have the resources to take on something like this.” No.

“I don’t think this fits in our architecture.” No.

Perhaps it’s time for salespeople to step back and reassess how they view this word and think about it in the context of the reality of the sales cycle. Perhaps even consider using this word as a very powerful means of improving their engagement with prospects to ensure they focus their time and efforts on those that have the best chance of becoming customers.

First, consider the fact that a very small percentage of prospects are active buyers. The rest are researching or investigating, gathering information for a future proposed project, or just looking for some inspiration or new ideas. The download material from a website or click the request a demo button. For them, they have the time to spend on this kind of activity. They aren’t worried about revenue and don’t work on commission.

Because they express interest, salespeople believe that these are prospects they can convert into customers. They believe if they are persistent and leverage all their powerful sales techniques, that each and every one of these prospects will become a customer. So, they invest lots of time and effort in them. And these prospects will consume that salesperson’s time until their satisfied with what they’ve learned, and then they will use one of the phrases listed above to disengage. Given how precious time is, is it wise for salespeople to spend ANY of their time with this kind of prospect? And how does a salesperson know that this is the type of prospect with whom they are interacting?

Second, while considering that, also think about the perspective and knowledge these non-buying prospects have. They are typically investigating or research because they see an opportunity to fix something or do it better, and they have an idea about what that solution is. This is how the human brain works. It doesn’t like living with the unknown. It will quickly surmise a solution based on information and experience available to it. It will then use this preconceived notion while it does its research. This means that it is predisposed to what it already knows and will most likely rule out anything that it isn’t familiar with, or it can’t quickly understand.

So, what is a salesperson to do with a prospect that is most likely not an active buyer, and, even if they were, will need to be clearly educated so that their brain can be open to the possibilities of a solution not seen before?

The answer is not to engage a sales engineer and spend lots of time in meetings with this prospect only to be rejected or ghosted later on. Instead, turn things around and put No to work. Not directly, by refusing to engage the prospect at all. Rather leverage the power of the latest in interactive demo automation. Websites, whitepapers, and testimonial videos all serve to draw a prospect in. When that prospect is then inspired to ask for a presentation and product demonstration, instead of excitedly scheduling the meeting and throwing the standard presentation and demonstration at them, ask them to do some homework first. Provide them with a fully interactive and self-service demo experience. Give them a tool that presents your solution from your point of view, with what you consider to be your value and innovation. This is how a salesperson can deal with those two issues mentioned above.

Prospects that are serious want to self-educate. They will gladly engage with a vehicle that allows them to get a deeper understanding of your solution that also doesn’t require them to schedule a time and deal with a sales team. In fact, as they are combing your website, that’s really what they want. They usually only download the whitepaper or look at the customer videos because that’s all you’re giving them. Since they can’t get what they really want, they settle for what they can get. Prospects that aren’t serious are happy with the whitepaper and the testimonials. They also believe that salespeople exist to provide product demonstrations – that’s their job. So they feel no guilt about asking for a demo when they don’t plan to buy. For them, there is no real effort involved. So, if a salesperson asks that prospect to spend a little time with an online interactive demo before a meeting and that prospect doesn’t respond back, that’s not a missed sale. That’s a sale that would not have happened and a lot of time saved to put toward prospects that will actively buy. The need for effort will immediately filter out the non-buying prospect.

Because the serious prospect wants to self-educate, the self-service interactive demo triggers their brain that there is perhaps something more and different here than what it initially preconceived. So rather than you having to spend two or three meetings getting the prospect past what they think a solution should be to what you know a solution can be, the interactive demo will begin to create the cognitive dissonance you need for the prospect to be open to a new way of doing things. A prospect that isn’t serious won’t experience that cognitive dissonance – because they don’t really want to. Without it, you can’t get that prospect to buy. Even if that prospect uses the online demo, they will most likely take note of what they liked and move on. They weren’t going to buy anyway. Now you’ve not only educated them, but you’ve also avoided spending time on something that wouldn’t lead to a sale.

No doesn’t have to be a negative word. It doesn’t have to mean a lost sale. It can be a very powerful way of ensuring salespeople identify and spend time with the minority of prospects that are serious. Interactive self-service product and solution demonstrations, built to convey what you believe is your value and innovation, are the best way to say No – to ask that prospect to invest a little of their time before you invest theirs. The serious prospects will, and you can engage with a greater degree of confidence. The non-buying prospects won’t, freeing you to go find and engage with the serious ones.


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