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Dear Buyers – It’s OK to Tell a Sales Rep NO
By John Barrows | July 25, 2018

No is actually the second-best answer a sales rep can hear besides the obvious yes.  The worst sin in sales is not for a sales rep to lose a deal, it’s to take a long time to lose a deal. So, the faster you can figure out a solution is not the right fit and be open and honest with the sales rep, the better off we’ll all be.

Placating a sales rep and thinking you’re being nice by not telling them you’re not interested is one of the worst things you can do because it gives us a false sense of hope, which we will pursue forever and waste everyone’s time while doing so.

As an example, when you get a cold call and you say “send me information” when you’re really not interested and just trying to be nice, you’re actually being a lot meaner than if you were to simply say “I’m not interested, thanks.” I’d actually rather be hung up on.

The reason I’m writing about this is because this scenario happens all the time.

Here’s a recent example: A guy put in a request for information about our services, we played email tag for a while, finally got on the phone, had a good conversation about his needs, talked about the details of our program and even pricing.

He asked for me to send him the outline of how the training would be delivered onsite and remotely and said he would talk to the other decision-makers about which would be the better fit.  He even agreed to a follow-up meeting the next week at a specific time that I sent him a calendar invitation for.

I sent him the information about an hour after we talked and soon after he declined the meeting request and sent me an email saying “John, I have absolutely no interest.”

Huh? Seriously?

Was this the same guy I just spent 30 minutes on the phone with having what seemed to be a really good conversation? If you’ve ever seen the Dave Chappelle episode when Charlie Murphy tells the story about Rick James putting his dirty feet on his couch, and then Rick James stares into the camera and says he didn’t do it and in the same breath admits that he did and then says “cocaine’s a hellofa drug.”  That’s what this was like (although no cocaine was involved).

The info I sent over to him didn’t include anything we hadn’t already discussed. He obviously decided he wasn’t interested sometime during our conversation, so why didn’t he just say so?  No one really likes the awkwardness of telling people no directly – but, come on.  He’s probably the type of guy that would break up with someone over a text message. Grow up.

For you buyers, please don’t be afraid to hurt our feelings.  It’s ok to say no.

You might get a little push-back from the sales rep trying to understand why but, ultimately, answering a few questions and listening to a potential justification of why you should reconsider is way less painful for everyone involved than stringing us along.

For sales reps, next time you’re talking with a prospective client, at some point in the conversation ask them, “if there’s a point in this process where it’s obvious to you that we’re not the right fit, are you comfortable telling me no?” It’s a weird question to ask and the answer is somewhat obvious.  However, letting someone know that you’re cool with them telling you no can save you and them a lot of time.

Good luck. Make It Happen!

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