Learn How to Say NO
Estimated Lesson Time: 4 minutes
In the world of sales, when a prospect says “no” or “not interested,” what it really means, most of the time, is that the prospect needs more information. It is estimated that more than 50% of the time we say no, we are doing so out of reflex or habit. At the same time, many people are pressured into saying yes when they really mean no mostly out of fear of offending or fear of standing out. Every day we end up getting stuck doing things we do not want to do, buying things we really don’t want, and missing opportunities because we do not know how to say no.
My friend once told me of a time he was invited to this “party.” The party took place in a hotel conference room. As soon as all of the “guests” arrived, the doors were shut behind them and out came running an overly-excited guy with a microphone welcoming everyone to the party and “letting them in” on a “ground floor opportunity.” Here was a group of people who were misled by someone whom they most likely trusted into coming to what they believed was a purely social event, which really turned out to be a high-pressure sales situation. The tactic used by these high-pressure salespeople was to get the prospects into a situation where refusing their offer would cause them embarrassment or at least discomfort. Fortunately, my friend had enough business sense to know what was going on and enough self-confidence to reject the offer. Way to go, Keith!
In today’s world of high-pressure sales, learning how to say no is a must, especially in business where just one bad purchasing decision can lead to the failure of the company. However, do not react with an immediate no without understanding the offer. This hasty reaction can result in a missed opportunity. Remember, when you say no too quickly, any salesperson with even a little experience would move on to countering the rejection, thus not letting you off the hook. So how do we get off the hook?
Offer an explanation. Most people feel that no means no and they do not need to give an explanation. While this may be true, it is not good communication. People often avoid giving explanations to salespeople because they do not want to give them information that they can counter. In these cases, or in any case where you do not feel comfortable sharing the truth, say “I am sorry, but I have to say no for personal reasons” rather than “because I said” or “just because” as an explanation. It is hard to argue with that! Another favorite of mine is “I am sorry, but I have no interest whatsoever.” This is both polite yet decisive enough so that any decent sales person would simply thank you for your time and move on.
Offer a substitute. This technique works great when friends or family ask you to do something you really do not want to do. Instead of saying yes to avoid embarrassment or an awkward situation, say yes, but to an alternative proposal. At times, I am asked by friends to invest in their ideas. When I feel that it would be a poor investment, rather than simply saying no, or offering some lame excuse, I offer my assistance by offering them some free consulting services. While they did not get the money they were looking for, they are appreciative of the assistance, and I feel good as well for helping them out.
Learning how to say no is an important part of effective communication. Mastering this skill will allow to you have the self-confidence it takes to reject an offer and the tact to do it in a way that will cause embarrassment to neither you nor the person whose offer you reject. Learn how to say no and make better decisions.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)