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  • Writer's pictureHamish Mackenzie

Always take no for an answer.

One of my favorite books is “Never split the Difference” by ex-FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss.

And one of my favorite concepts from the book is that while every negotiation is about securing a positive outcome, you actually want people to say “No” more than they say “Yes” – whether you’re talking to a kidnapper or a sales prospect.

Let’s look at a simplified example of what I mean:

Salesperson: Would you agree that generating more high-quality leads would benefit your business?

Prospect: Yes.

Salesperson: Our Leads Machine service can help you do that.

Prospect: Great, send me some information. Goodbye.

A less than stellar outcome I think you’ll agree, despite the “Yes”, the sole purpose of which was to get rid of the salesperson. Result: No sale. Ever.

Now, let’s experience the “No”-oriented alternative:

Salesperson: So, based on what you have said so far, it seems as if you need to generate more high-quality leads, correct?

Prospect: No, I think the more important issue is that we are failing to translate the good leads we already have into sales.

Salesperson: I see, let’s explore that. Why do you think that is?

Prospect: One reason is our salespeople are spending far too much time on admin, and not enough time talking to customers.

Salesperson: So, it seems as if your salespeople could do with some help in improving productivity.

Prospect: Exactly right.

Salesperson: We’ve helped hundreds of companies like yours improve salesforce productivity by an average of 50%. Would you be open to a proposal on how we can do the same for you?

Prospect: Absolutely. If you can get it to me tomorrow, we can discuss it on Friday and take it from there.

A dramatic improvement. And all of this stemmed from the initial “No” from the prospect. Eliciting that negative response prompted him to reveal information about the actual problem he was experiencing and get interested in the discussion. The result: A likely sale.

If you want to get your salespeople excited about getting “No” for an answer, let’s talk.


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Copyright Hamish Mackenzie, 2021


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