Turning 'no' into 'yes' to improve your bottom line

If you’re in business, you’re always looking for ways to increase sales. One way involves overcoming objections and learning the art of turning a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’.

Handling objections effectively is a basic skill that can reap huge rewards. As consumers when we say ‘no’ often it just means that we’re not 100% convinced that the salesperson has solved our problem. And it’s annoying because that’s why we came to them!

Last week a manager in a sporting goods company, Geoff, told me that he loves it when potential customers say ‘no’. He takes it as a personal challenge to turn them around.

Geoff reckons that if he’s spent 20-30 minutes talking to a prospective customer, listening to what they want, and showed them a good option at a competitive price, he has earned the right to ask why they don’t want to buy it. Often it is something easily solved.

Recently a prospective customer wanted a new bike. He chose the model he wanted and took it for a quick ride before getting off and saying he didn’t like it and wanted to have a look in other stores. Rather than accept the ‘no’ and let him walk away, Geoff asked politely if there was a problem with the bike. The customer said he loved the look of it but the seat was uncomfortable. “No problem,” said Geoff. “We can change the seat to something more comfortable for you,” gave him a couple of options and asked “is there anything else we can help you with?” The customer also needed riding shoes, a helmet and the sale ended up at more than $2500.

These days, retail customers often say they’ll have to check out a product online. Having done his homework, Geoff's response is to look it up on his phone and check the price with the customer. He’ll say something like “We can get close to that price, AND we have a colour selection, we’ll assemble it for you, and you can bring it in for a free three month service.” Most often he gets the sale and the customer walks away delighted.

This approach to 'no' is equally valid for Business to Business dealings. Geoff’s company has a large network of exclusive dealers. It’s a mature market and to grow they need to lure dealers from their competitors. Changing allegiance is a big decision for dealers as they have built relationships, often over many years, and use systems that they’re comfortable with.

Geoff is so convinced of his company’s value proposition that once he has identified a dealer, he works on it and in most cases, over time, gets a positive result. When he gets a 'no', instead of second guessing what the issue is, he simply asks. Often it can be a small thing that halts progress and it may have little to do with the offering, it’s more about timing. So he keeps coming back until the timing is right.

Operating on the principle that if you don’t ask, you don’t get Geoff believes there’s no harm in asking. It’s simply what is required to make the sale, which is good for him, good for the customer and good for his business.

Seven things to take from Geoff’ success:

  • Do your homework, know the competitive edge of your offering

  • Have absolute belief in your products and value proposition

  • See ‘no’ as an opportunity to solve a problem and add more value

  • Don’t take ‘no’ as a personal rejection

  • Have the confidence to ask why

  • Ask for the business – if you don’t ask you don’t get

  • Persist by following up in a professional manner until you get a ‘yes’, or at least leave the customer with a positive impression so you might get a ‘yes’ down the track

This all seems like common sense but from what I hear when talking with sales managers who want to get "back to the basics" with their sales training, it is not common practice. Often sales people lack the confidence, skills or resilience to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ and it's costing a lot of money.

How often do potential customers literally or figuratively walk out the door in your organisation? This is an ideal topic for a regular coaching session with your sales team. Practice asking "why not?" and come up with some common objections. Then share ideas and give examples of how you could deal with them. Observe your team in action, give them feedback, share the 'turnaround stories' and recognise and reward success. This one strategy alone can add thousands of dollars to your bottom line.


Posted: Wednesday 24 October 2012

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