Many years ago I asked someone I worked very closely with if I could have a specific feature built in our software. I knew it was not going to be easy. Frustrated by my request she said "No." Short and sweet. I didn't take that for an answer since I know anything is possible. I replied "Well, that's not right. It's really a factor of time, money, and/or the right people. So which is it?" Frustrated even more, she banged her fists on the table, and walked away. She knew I was right, but didn't have the answers she needed to give us the specific feature.

What she could have said was "Not yet, it would take 4 months, $15,000 extra investment and we'd have to hire a kick-ass developer." I could have done something with that information.

The word no needs to be backed up with 'because...'. And usually it's not a 'no' and there is a door to remain open when you find out the 'because' needs something else to get it to a 'yes.'

Did we end up building the feature? We sure did and it got us high-paying customers who stuck around for a long time which more than paid for the work.

Fast forward many years when I was selling that very same company. I was approached by the same company 3 times over the course of 7 years to be acquired. After they dug around our company the first time it was a 'no.' They were going to build it themselves. Years later they came again, this time with a completely different group of people. I got another 'no' as they said they were looking at another company. The third time it was an entirely different group of folks again, who said 'maybe'. And a deal was done.

Ask Why

There are a ton of people who will be honest and share why. All three times I was approached they were honest with me. It gave me insight into the new crew's mission at that time and what was important to them.

Don't Take No For An Answer

It could be any of the following reasons that 'no' comes about, but you need to focus on keeping in touch with them from time to time. Why?

  • Company focus changes all the time.
  • The timing might not be right for them, they have other priorities.
  • You might not have all of the things they need to make the decision now.
  • People at companies change all the time bringing different ideas.

Keep the Door Open

Ask if you can keep in touch with your naysayer. Reach out to them in a nurturing way. Don't always ask for the sale. Give them updated about your company's progress, any new things you've added that might perk their ears, send them industry research, follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn. Share their news with your followers. This way you'll be on their minds when and if the time is right.

Don't be bummed when you get a 'no,' just don't take no for an answer. Keep that door open and don't hard sell, maybe you'll just get the yes.