In business: when no never means no

In business: when no never means no

I believe in this brutal truth: ‘No never means no.’

Let me be very clear. This idea does not apply to those many occasions in life when ‘no’ absolutely means ‘no.’ And I’m thinking of you here, Harvey. It only applies to this one very special case. And for many of us in business today, it’s central to our success, today and tomorrow.

So when does ‘no never mean no?’

When you are selling professional services to potential clients or stakeholders. And this applies, in my view, if you are angling for a promotion or a new role. All ‘no‘ means in these circumstances is this. “Not now.” Or, “Not yet.”

For a client to ‘buy’ our services, they need to have courage and to manage their fear of failure. These are real pressures for them. They have much at stake.

As we push for a decision – ‘will you buy?’… ‘will you give me what I want?’ – it’s easier for the client or stakeholder to say ‘no.’

But what they really mean is: “I need more time. A few other things need to fall into place. So, not now. Not yet.

In many industries, as automation and artificial intelligence take over many of the functions we perform today, one of the most vital strengths a human brings to business is the ability to persuade. Machines don’t have empathy. Machines can’t sell. It’s our ability to persuade so as to get the ‘yes’ and the support for our ideas that will future-proof and turbo-charge our careers.

And central to selling and persuading is expecting and having the resilience to handle many, many ‘no’s’. The more ‘no’s’ you’re getting, the closer you’re getting to the ‘yes’ answer.

So, get your mindset right.

In business when you’re selling, ‘no never means no.’ It just means: ‘Not now. Not yet.

Pause. Recalibrate. Think about your strategy to gently approach that moment again with your prospects. Pick your timing. Add some more value. And then, ask again.

You’ll be surprised how often that original  ‘no’ turns into a ‘yes.’

In selling and persuading in business, learn to love ‘no.’ It’s just turbulence on your flight path to success.


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