Skip to Content Top
This site uses cookies. By navigating the site, you consent to our use of cookies. Accept

When Is "No" A Great Sales Outcome?


Every salesperson lives for the thrill of the closing the deal. That magical moment when you realize the sale is going to happen is one of the greatest experiences for professional salespeople. It’s what keeps them going through the all-too-frequent rejections.

Remember, though, the lyrics from the classic Kenny Rogers song, The Gambler: “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” The song was about poker of course, but that advice can be applied to sales situations as well.

In fact there are at least three situations when a sales person should “fold ‘em,” “walk away,” and yes, even “run”! “NO” is a great sales outcome when:

1) The only one who wants the deal is the seller - We have a saying that “You can’t want it for them.” There are times when you, the seller, can objectively see the true need from the buyer’s perspective. But for whatever reason, no matter how clearly you make the case, the prospect is on a different page and may not even be feeling the pain that you can sense and could solve. Stop beating your head against the wall! “No” is the right outcome! Don’t waste any more time and energy trying to get the prospect to “see the light.” Move on.

2) The prospect is just being polite - “Nice” prospects often find it easier to say “let me think about it” or “sounds good, call me next week,” rather than say “no” to the seller. Why? Buyers have been conditioned to expect a salesperson to shift into a frantic, hard-hitting objection-handling mode if they sense a deal is slipping away. So instead, let prospects know in advance that you are fine with hearing “no” if it isn’t a fit. (In fact removing the element of desperation from your sales process could prove to be an effective tactic anyways.) But when a buyer is only telling you “maybe” as a polite way to get you out of his or her office, “no” is the best outcome.

3) Turning “suspects” into “prospects” - Prospecting is the act of separating prospects from suspects, not trying to transform suspects into prospects. There’s a huge difference. Spend your time selling to qualified prospects, not trying to convince suspects that they should be prospects. If you’re on a call with a suspect who is not a legitimate prospect, “no” is a best outcome that will save both parties a lot of time.

Selling is hard, but hearing “no” is not always a bad thing. Most “think it overs” are really just “slow no’s.” Identify a “no” situation early on so you can spend your time selling to the right prospects.

Chuck Terry, CEO/President

Chuck Terry, CEO/President

Sandler Training in Denver provides sales training, management and leadership training, and professional development for individuals and organizations. Let us know how we can help your team.