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Ah yes, The ‘no’ It can be awkward…
This one is for my business peeps. Or my peeps that have a hard time saying no. Or hearing no. Or saying ANYTHING at all really. When we ask for something, or disagree, or say no… there’s always a chance of THAT moment. You all know the one I’m talking about. That awkward as hell, kill me now, I want to run away, be anywhere but here- moment. Now that we’re headed into a new year I’m assuming there are some big goals floating around out there… which means TALKING TO PEOPLE! Which means hearing some ‘no’s’.
One thing that is said over and over, especially in the direct sales world, is “What’s the worst that can happen? They say No!?” Well, actually, that IS the worst thing that can happen. If you think the worst thing that can happen is to be involved in a chainsaw massacre when debating on whether or not to approach someone… get out of that business. NOW.
For real though, the WORST POSSIBLE OUTCOME for most micro-business owners is the ‘NO’. See?! It makes a little sense why we fear it so much! Do you feel better now? Your fear is valid! However, fear alone should never stop you. Especially if you have a thorough plan. One that goes beyond the possible horror of hearing ‘NO’. What do you do when you get a ‘no’? How do you make that ‘no’ a little less intimidating or… awkward. That’s where I come in! Awkward is my specialty after all!
Here are my top 5 tips to avoid that awkward moment. Or at least diffuse it.
If you approached someone solely for the purpose of a sale be upfront about it. Don’t try to make weird excuses or plans for coffee that you won’t keep. You are a business owner! You do not need to treat everyone like your best friend! Unless they actually ARE your best friend, just treat them like a valued or potential customer. Simple as that. It’d be really strange if the target associate asked you if you wanted to get coffee and hang out after you turn down the red card, right? People see right through it, so you can stop that now. It makes you appear desperate and fake.
Of course, we don’t want to come off like a gross spammy salesperson that is ONLY about the sale, so adding in any personal knowledge of the person is great. That personal touch is what makes us small business folks so special after all! But don’t force it. If you are cold messaging people, be honest. If you are reaching out to your warm market, BE HONEST about your intentions! Whether it’s checking on a recent purchase, working on an upsell, or just testing the water for interest… BE. HONEST. ABOUT. YOUR. INTENTIONS. That will erase 99% of awkward moments by itself. If you weren’t honest at first… start being honest as soon as possible.
If things are awkward after asking for a hostess or a sale… circle back… were you honest and clear? Take that awkwardness as your chance to be sincere. Apologize about any misdirection, remind the person that you are a business owner if need be, and move on. Don’t forget, insincerity make it awkward for THEM too.
Just like being honest, don’t hide behind false claims. Things like ” I saw this picture of you and thought blah blah blah.” You do not need some random reason or force of nature to talk to people about your business. A target associate doesn’t mosey up to you up and say: “Hey, I was just over in electronics and I saw a camera which made me think of your beautiful pants. What do you think about buying some pants?” Because that’s just friggin’ weird. No, instead they just ask “Can I help you?” or “Would you like to apply for a red card today?” No BS. Be like that, No BS. If you are curious about what your customers think of something, or if they are interested in something, don’t beat around the bush, JUST ASK! Don’t make shit up. There’s no reason to.
Then, if they say no, you have a clear delineation between you as a person and your product. If you have your pitch all muddled up with personal stuff, the ‘No’ can get really awkward. For everyone. So untangle it! Go back up to the ‘Be Honest’ section and apologize for any misdirection, clarify, and move on. Speaking of moving on…
LISTEN TO THE ‘NO’!
So, they said no. Do you know why they said no? Are you trying to sell steak to a vegan? Once we hear ‘No’ we typically either shut down completely and stop listening or we just refuse to hear it at all. I loathe the coaching “No means not yet.” (click that link for some REALLY great coaching!) Because while that might be true sometimes, it’s not 100% true for everyone. Honesty comes back in here. If you sense it’s a ‘not yet’, ASK THEM. Do not just assume they’ll change their mind and keep coming back around whenever you’re trying to hit a sales goal. That’s like the frosting on the awkward cake. They get to make up their own minds. Stop trying to Jedi Mind trick people.
For example, I don’t wear makeup pretty much ever. So when I say ‘no thanks’ it really means no thanks in terms of eyeshadow and lipstick. However, I love me some graphic T-shirts. So anytime I say no to one of those, it’s never really NO forever. Do you know how my personal reps know it’s a real ‘no’ or a ‘not right now’? I tell them. Usually, because they ask. And I appreciate the heck out of them for that!
Have an exit strategy
Sometimes things just don’t go well no matter what you do. The person is either not interested AT ALL or you’re in way over your head with a girl you had history class with 15 years ago making a coffee date after she already said no. You guys, your time is valuable. Their time is valuable. Know when to end the conversation and move on. If they said no, and you do not legitimately intend to pursue the relationship beyond a satisfied customer, you need to excuse yourself. With grace.
After you have determined their level of interest, and whether or not they’d like a follow-up, a simple “Thank you for talking to me about XXX today! I appreciate it!” will do. Keep it simple, honest, and clean. No need for a soap opera.
Don’t lose sight of your mission
Last but not least, no matter what form the ‘no’ comes in, don’t let it deter you from your overall mission. You are a business owner. Yes, it’s hard to get turned down, but just think about how many ads you see in a day where you don’t immediately buy the product? Big businesses have the benefit of not being personally rejected every time someone says no to them, but it still happens more often than not. You are your OWN ad, billboard, and sales associate. Get used to hearing ‘No, thank you!’ without letting it crush you.
The ‘NO’ is a part of business
‘No’ is just plain a part of this small business world we live in. It might be the absolute worst thing that can happen, but it’s also not THAT bad in the grand scheme of things. As far as things getting a little awkward after that moment? Now, that doesn’t have to be a normal occurrence!