Billy Joel has said, "I really wish I was less of a thinking man and more of a fool not afraid of rejection."
Here is a simple thought for this week: No is good. No is the salesperson's friend. No produces efficiency.
I frequently have told my friends that rejection is my middle name. For myself and any salesman rejection will surely be the result of many, if not most of your interactions. Certainly for high-end sales initiation with real decision makers that is the case.
I was struck by a blog posted by Anthony Tjan in the Harvard Business Review a couple of years ago. Mr. Tjan is managing partner and founder of the venture capital firm Cue Ball and is not a salesman per se, but his thoughts are very applicable to sales. He states, "A yes is obviously the answer you always hope to get, but the ability to get to no, especially if it is a quick one, is critical to maximizing efficiency and effectiveness. The sooner you get to no, the faster you'll be able to look for that next yes." Utterly true.
Beware of ditherers and vacillators. They will eat you up. They are the real enemies of efficient sales. There are ways to cut to the chase without brusqueness, discourtesy, or antagonizing a real prospect. For example, one simple thing I've always tried to do early on in discussions is ascertain if my costs are manageable to a potential customer. With greatest courtesy I always want to simply make sure a potential client can afford me before getting in too deeply. Why waste time? This respects her time as well as mine.
But when your proposition is rejected it is important to keep focused on your core values. When I am rejected in sales (or in life) I strive to become even more courteous than when a sale seemed possible. I try to keep my mind focused on service, even when there is no business to be had. This brands a seamless tone of helpfulness, good humor and collegiality that carries over to the next sales event, hopefully a more successful event. It brands this tone of service because it is true.
Getting to no is a real sales value in itself. Mr. Tjan quotes a friend of his as saying, "...a fast no is better than a long maybe." Indeed. I certainly admire any colleagues who have a clear-eyed capacity to say an unhesitant "no." (Note Warren Buffett, who says, "We need to say the slow 'yes' and the quick 'no.'")
So God bless no. Rejection can be a good and necessary part of sales. It is not a negative. It is a helpful efficiency. Handling rejection positively is a part of any healthy ongoing sales effort.
The Greek philosopher Diogenes (412-323 B.C.) was once noticed begging from a statue. When asked the reason for this pointless action, he replied, "I am exercising the art of being rejected." As should all good salesmen.
Thank you Diogenes.