Much has been written about the value of persistence in sales. It has even been said that you need to contact a prospect seven times before you make a sale. Like the “one page résumé”, the rule of seven has taken hold as one of the most entrenched ideas in business.
After more than 20 years in the business world, I’ve come to realize that these notions are just myths. I’ve never seen a qualified job applicant get rejected up front because his or her resume is two pages long. Similarly, I think that if you need to go back for a seventh time to a prospect that has already said no the previous six, there is something seriously wrong with you or your product, or you’re just not pitching the right prospect.
I felt a sense of comforting validation yesterday when I read a great post by Mark Cuban, where he talks about the problem with not taking no for an answer, and not recognizing when it might be better to just move on (if you haven’t read it yet I highly recommend it: here’s the link).
Which brings me to my second point: just as important as recognizing when to move on is to know when your prospect is saying no. Most of the time, you won’t be rejected flat out but will instead be given the run around (“no”s are often cleverly disguised as “maybe”s).
This fact was pointed out very effectively by a keynote speaker I had the chance to listen to last week during a sales convention in Brazil. To make his point, he first asked the audience if we knew what the opposite of love was. Predictably, everybody answered: hate. He then proceeded to explain that the opposite of love was not hate but indiference.
To prove his point, he keenly observed that when a customer takes the time to argue with you or makes the effort of telling you exactly what’s wrong with your product or service, what it really means is that he cares.
On the other hand, when the customer or prospect doesn’t tell you anything, or worse still, comes up with any of these:
- We’re still evaluating
- We need more information
- Can you leave me a brochure?
- Give me your card, I’ll call you back.
- We’re busy know, can you come back some other time?
You know you’re in trouble…
If you find yourself in this predicament, do what Mark Cuban says: find out what the real objections are, address them, and go back one more time. If the prospect still says no it’s time to move on.