Good sales reps understand that you will encounter objections and push back during your sales process.  It’s inevitable and very much a natural part of any sales cycle.  In fact, the question really is not if you will hear “No”, but rather how many times you will hear “No”, when you will hear it and from whom (i.e., which key stakeholders).

Great sales reps not only intimately understand the rejection stage, but also anticipate it and embrace it. Why? Because this is when the real selling starts and ultimately the inherent rewards that come from turning the “No” into a “Yes”.

First, it is important to understand the sales context and meaning of No.  Many times it is due to confusion or misunderstanding.  When you are selling enterprise solutions to large companies there are many people with varying agendas involved in the evaluation and decision process. There are incumbent technology vendors, brand new start-up vendors, home grown alternatives (DIY) and everything in between.  Great sales reps understand this and don’t get defensive when they are rejected or get push back, rather they embrace it as an opportunity to educate and in the process actually better differentiate themselves from competitive options.

Given the messaging confusion that exists in technology because everyone sounds like they do all the same things, you need to appreciate the customer’s position and bring clarity to the problem. It’s an opportunity to show off your domain expertise and your companies bench strength, after all the customer is buying the people behind the technology as much as the technology itself.

Secondly, No or sales rejection is often just a way to say that you haven’t adequately built the business case for your solution or addressed their risk.  Again, great sales reps recognize this and will fall on their swords accepting responsibility for not doing their job well enough.  Even Michael Jordan had a bad first half or two in a basketball game in his career. They key is recognizing it, accepting responsibility and making adjustments to address the customer’s business case needs or risk mitigation needs effectively.

Additionally, push back can mean there wasn’t a real project or budget available…even if they told you there was. Sometimes sales rejection means that you didn’t properly identify and cultivate a champion within the account. Champions are vitally important to any successful sales outcome. They sell internally for you and provide you with coaching on what needs to be done to get to a Yes.  Another common reason for sales rejection is that there wasn’t an executive sponsor for the initiative or project that required your solution.  Even the most ardent Champion won’t get you to Yes if there isn’t an Executive Sponsor who has the budgetary authority to finance the project or initiative.

There is a correlation in the size of the deal/opportunity, the number of key stakeholders that you need to influence and win over and the number of rejections or No’s that you will encounter in the sales process.  Talk to any successful enterprise sales rep and they will tell their signature wins included lots of stops, restarts and rejection.  They knew that was when the real selling started and relished the challenge to turn the deal around and get to the Yes.

Please share your best sales story around selling at the No and getting to Yes.  As always, Good Selling!