Flipping the Script: How ‘No’ Can Lead to ‘Yes’ in Sales.


It seems counterintuitive to ask your prospect to tell you “no,” doesn’t it?

Salespeople of nearly any experience level will say that the only way to get the order is to get a series of “yes” answers.

Negotiators like Jim Camp and Chris Voss would disagree.

Giving your prospect permission to say no, gives them the emotional space they need to relax.

In a recent article, “I Need To Think About It,” I suggested that the way to uncover the real objection when a prospect tells you that they “need to think about it” is to begin to elicit a series of “no” answers from them.

Letting your prospect tell you why they WON’T buy from you also uncovers all the reasons they WILL buy from you and what else you need to do to secure this sale.

You’ve spent time with your prospect, trying to build rapport, assessing needs, and presenting solutions, and you’re about to go in for the close. Both you and your prospect know it. The prospect has braced himself for you to force them to say “yes” to a series of questions.

Rather than doing that, you say, “At this point, many of my customers tell me they need more information before committing to a purchase”? Is there anything you’d like me to go over again or additional questions you have before we move forward?”

There are two likely answers to that question.

Prospect:    “No. Nothing else.”

You:    “Great! Let me get your ok right here, and we’ll schedule it.”


Prospect:    “Yes. I don’t understand how the doohickey interfaces with the whatchamacallit.”

You:    “Great! Excellent question!” Then you review the delicate and intrinsic relationship of the whatchamacallit and the doohickey.

Asking a question that allows the prospect to tell you what’s wrong (the objection) gives you a chance to address the objection.

What if your prospect doesn’t know what to ask for?

I was talking to a group of car salespeople recently. I pointed out that if their customers purchased a new vehicle every three years from the day they turned 18 to the age of 99, they bought 27 vehicles in their lifetime. That seems like a lot until you consider how many vehicle sales the average car salesperson is part of. Even a poor salesperson should be able to slip, fall and stumble into six sales per month. If he can blunder his way through 2 years in the business, he has been a part of 144 sales. 144 negotiations. 144 deliveries. That’s five times as many car deals over just two years than your 99-year-old customer has ever done in their lifetime.

I asked these salespeople how many sales they think they may have lost because the customer didn’t know to ask you for something as simple as a set of floor mats.

If I’m a car shopper and I’m looking for an SUV. The SUV I am considering at ABC Dealer has a cargo net and all-weather floor mats, but the vehicle at XYZ Dealer doesn’t have them. Suppose I am an inexperienced buyer (compared to even a mediocre salesperson, every buyer is inexperienced). In that case, I might not know that I only have to ask the dealer to include them. As a shopper, I might have my pro and con list and have “floor liners” and “cargo net” on the list of positives that the OTHER car has. Ultimately, I opt for the car at XYZ motors because of those floor mats and cargo net.

This may sound ridiculous, but it does happen.

Give the customer permission to tell you what’s wrong.

Mr. Customer, if you were to say “no” to this purchase right now, what would the reasons be?

A career in sales is not made because you tricked your customers into agreeing. A pipeline full enough to last a lifetime is created when you’ve helped your customer believe that buying from you was the only reasonable decision.

Your customer is ready to buy. He needs you to help him believe.

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