Why saying no improves sales results

We live in a “yes” culture

In today’s world, everyone is encouraged to say yes as often as possible. In the world of selling we are conditioned that the customer is always right. We are told that we must do everything that they want. Otherwise they will go elsewhere and we will lose valuable business.

This article will challenge the assumption that yes is always right response. Saying no can bring valuable business benefits. It can even increase your profits dramatically.

Saying no can be a powerful strategy for sales people

Those who say no often gain more respect. This means that they create stronger relationships. They also remain more in control of their time and their lives. This allows them to achieve more.

Yes people often do not have the time to achieve. They are too busy wasting time on doing things that they should never have agreed to. Others see them as easy people to offload problems onto. They are forced to constantly react to what is put in front of them: they have no control over what they are doing.

Here are three reasons why saying no to the right clients makes sense.

Saying no creates time

Saying yes may be the wrong response to a client

Saying yes may be the wrong response to a client

I spoke recently to a sales person who had spent two hours of their morning visiting a client to discuss the artwork for a small quantity of leaflets. The profit in this job was minimal. The customer only placed occasional jobs with the printing company.

The client expected the sales person to service their account in this way. However, it was a complete waste of the sales person’s time. They could have used their time far more profitably elsewhere. But the sales person was frightened of losing the client.

Let’s say that the client had gone elsewhere. What would have this meant for the printing company? They would have lost a very small amount of turnover. The sales person would have freed up two hours of their week. They could have used that time to sell more profitably.

Naturally, not all decisions are so clear-cut. But saying no brings another advantage.

Saying no forces people to prioritise

The hardest time to say no is the first time. After that it is easy to wonder why we didn’t do it before. Once we have said no for that first time, we are much more open to saying it again.

This brings interesting opportunities. I am not suggesting that we say no all the time to all our clients. But I am recommending that we question whether we say yes. Asking this question forces us to prioritise. Do the demands of a client (or, equally, the demands of a work colleague) justify the time needed to fulfil them? Will this be profitable time? Will it bring in new business, help grow the relationship or help in some other way? Is the other person being reasonable?

Are there ways in which this time could be more profitably spent? Are there new business opportunities that need chasing up? Are there other clients on whom time could be more profitably spent? Is your client preventing you from spending valuable time with your family? If any of these are the case, it may be worth saying no. Doing this often brings an extra benefit as well.

Saying no creates interest

Clients are used to sales people saying yes to whatever they demand. A sales person who sometimes says no creates interest. Clearly they are not so desperate for work that they need to do whatever a prospect wants. A company that is busy enough to be able to act in this way must be doing something right.

Often this creates interest from a buyer. If we are told that we cannot have something then that is the thing that we automatically want. I actually spend a lot of my sales time trying to persuade clients to say no. I find this is a very effective sales technique!

What happens if the client goes elsewhere?

Saying no is always a calculated risk. The important thing is to weigh up the priorities carefully. What are the potential benefits if you say no to a client? What are the potential losses?

Saying no is best reserved for small customers, unprofitable customers and time-wasting customers. If one of these customers leaves, it is no great loss to the company. And you have almost certainly spent your time more profitably than if you spent it servicing a client like this.

It’s time to take action!

Review your clients. Is there a small, unprofitable customer who is always being unreasonably demanding? Consider politely declining their next request. Make sure you have something worthwhile to do with the time that you have gained.

The client may carry on and work with you anyway. Or you may lose a client that was hard work in return for gaining some valuable time for new business.

Either way, it is a better result than keeping to a yes culture.
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