July 2, 2012

You Only Start Selling When You Hear A “No”

In August 2008 Marc Hogan was bet £1 that he couldn’t become a stand up comic in less than 12 months and perform a one man comedy show at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival in August 2009 for 21 nights. He won the bet!

Last week whist travelling abroad to present to an international audience I met Peter Davies the Director of Selective Search Recruitment. We were talking about sales (as you do) and he said something that I thought was really perceptive.

He said, “Selling is easy when you get on well with the customer and they are interested in your product or service, in fact we’ve all had those sales calls where it feels more like a conversation than a sale. But the truth is, in a competitive market you only really start selling when you hear a ‘no’ from a potential customer…”

Peter is completely right.  We all enjoy sales when it’s going well, but when it’s tough that’s when you really start to earn your keep.

I’m often asked to provide advice on telephone prospecting and cold calling, which is the place where salespeople are most likely to hear the word “no”.  Although cold calling is often seen as the most difficult aspect of a salesman’s job, the truth is, yes it is tough, but having cold called a lot of people over the years from the comfort of my office and then having approached at least 150 people a day at the Edinburgh festival to ensure I got ticket sales and the all-important comedy audience, I know it gets easier.  What’s more, contrary to popular belief, it won’t kill you!

When cold calling it’s vitally important that you have a solutions-based opening when phoning potential new clients.

Here is an idea to get you started:

“Good Morning Mr(s) _______ my name is _____from_____ .  The reason I’m calling is that we’ve been recently working with (respected industry player), and had some fantastic results and I believe we have something that could really help you…..”

Dealing with the “No”

“No, I’m not interested we already have a have a preferred supplier.”

At that point the easiest thing in the world to do would be to say, “sorry for bothering you” then hang up the phone and gently weep to yourself whilst rocking forwards and backwards before deciding it’s time to take a break and have a tea /coffee / cigarette/ or even a piece of fruit (if you’re a health nut) and sneak away from your desk for as long as possible.

I’ll be the first to admit that I developed a 10 tangerine a day habit whilst cold calling.  So in the interests of helping those of you who don’t want their hands to turn orange and want to avoid having to call even greater numbers of people to meet your targets, here is a possible response to that initial ‘no’…

“Of course, some of our biggest clients were in exactly the same position until they saw how we could really help them. May I ask who you’re currently using?”

Now I’m not stupid.  I know that some people will still tell you that they are not interested and hang up the phone.  However, you would be surprised how many people will answer the question.

Here are a couple of options to take the call forward.

Option A

“Oh, that’s interesting, you’re using _____, then we really should get together, a number of our best clients used to work with them until they saw the quality of our service…”

Option B

“Oh, you’re using _____, then we really should get together; a number of our best clients saw great results when they saw how we complemented their existing supplier…”

The truth is selling is a mental game and if we let our Editor win (see my 7 keys for more info) we will often close the door on a sale before it’s even begun because we don’t like to hear the word ‘no’ and/or we are worried about appearing to be pushy.

I always remember selling my comedy show at Edinburgh, as I mentioned I would have to talk to about 150 people a day over a 10 hour shift to guarantee at least 20 ticket sales.  Many of those people had spent most of their day being ‘flyered’ and some were openly hostile but every day I tried different ways to get round the ‘no’ response. Sometimes it worked sometimes it didn’t, but when it did, what a feeling….

Click here to watch Marc’s showreel. If you would like to find out more about Marc, visit www.marchoganlive.com or to book him for a speaking event please contact your favourite speaker bureau.


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