Does a “No” End the Sales Call?

Jerry has been trying to get a local supermarket chain to carry his company’s frozen food products. Jerry recently had a conversation with Anita, the buyer; part of it went like this:

Jerry: Anita, if you can start with our line of frozen snacks, I can offer an introductory deal with no risk, and you can test how well our products will sell for you.

Anita: Jerry, that sounds good. But right now, we’re not looking for new products. We don’t have room. Even our current brands are fighting for shelf space. So, in this climate, I have to say no.

What Does “No” Mean?

Jerry has a decision to make at this point. What does no mean? Here are three possibilities:

  1. The buyer is not playing games. She says she has no space. Jerry shouldn’t be obnoxious and keep selling.
  2. No never means no. If Jerry had the hottest new frozen food item on the market and it was the buzz of the industry, wouldn’t Anita find space?
  3. No may mean no for everyone else, but Jerry’s goal should be to get Anita to see why she should say yes to him.

If Jerry has a Q4 selling approach, what should be his attitude toward a prospect who says no?

A “No” Is Just an Objection to Handle

All three answers could have some validity, but Jerry won’t truly know where he stands until he probes that negative response!


We realize that sometimes a no cannot be budged. But, remember, in Q4 selling, a no is a form of objection. As such, it should not simply be accepted; it should be probed for what may be behind it.


But isn’t it Q1, high-pressure behavior to keep pestering (or even bullying) a prospect by not taking no for an answer?


That would be true if Jerry were making wild claims or badgering Anita:
“If you don’t buy now, this deal won’t be offered again.” “When our product takes off, my company may only sell to your competitor. You’d better get on board now!”


Turning “No” Around

However, Q4 selling tries to influence prospects and customers by understanding and building on their perspective. That’s why probing would make so much sense here. Think of Anita as having a problem — she doesn’t have the space. Jerry’s role should be to help solve that problem.


Probing means asking questions and really listening to Anita’s point of view. Perhaps, Jerry would have a way to import and set up small freezer cases for a product rollout in Anita’s stores. That would solve the initial space problem. Of course, he would have to work out terms that would make it attractive for her to buy in.


Whatever resistance you encounter, whatever the no is, probe enough to think of work-arounds or creative ways to help solve the prospect’s problems with your initial offer. In other words, be ready to adapt your selling to meet the other person’s needs. Then, the solution will satisfy what they want and what you want.

A Selling Opportunity

What if Anita’s space concerns are just an excuse to make Jerry go away? That’s still a good reason for probing her rejection. By interacting on a deeper level, Jerry may uncover hidden reasons she is turning him down. Maybe she doesn’t like his pricing policies, but doesn’t want to argue. In the conversation, he may discover a foothold for drawing out the real issues she has with his product.

So, in Q4 selling, a no may actually be an opportunity — if you just probe in a problem-solving way.