In Sales, No Means Maybe

I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve actually grown to love cold calling. I like that it’s active, not passive. And it’s infinitely fascinating to deal with human nature on such a personal level that you’ll never be able to get from an email. That’s not to say that everyone is nice or that everyone says yes. In fact, most people say maybe. And even when they say no, many are still saying maybe. At least that’s what I’ve learned in the past couple of weeks.



I sell everything from products to services and talk to a wide variety of people. Meeting planners, small business owners, mom bloggers, promotional products distributors, retailers, wholesalers, etc. I talk to people from all over the world in countries I never even knew existed.

If I contact someone and they flat out say no to me, I cross most of them off my list. So imagine my surprise this week when I was contacted by two companies that said no before. I had to go back and check my records just to make sure. Yep, great big X across the page. (yes, I still write things out by hand) It wasn’t a casual no, but more of a “hell, no” Not interested, no way, no how. These were calls that were completely out of the blue. This time it was a bending over backwards to please kind of call. Okay, I’m stumped. Pleased, but stumped.

After giving it some thought, I think I’ve figured it out. The first time I heard no meant that the timing wasn’t right, or the product wasn’t what they needed or the product wasn’t good enough yet. Yet. And here’s the clue to getting sales from people who once told you no. You have to keep improving and adding value to the product.

I guarantee Tom Cruise heard no many, many times before he got his big break. And the same people who told him no the first time were falling over themselves to get him in their next movie. So, wasn’t he the same Tom Cruise that was rejected? Actually he wasn’t. He was a new and improved version. He was the value-added Cruise.

This is why I had two people call me up after telling me they definitely weren’t interested. Both didn’t haggle over price and I was treated like a VIP. Because the products had improved. Both of them. They were value-added now. And other people had validated them.

So, if you want to pick up sales from the people who previously turned you down, you have to start adding value and keep adding value. You have to keep improving the product. And you have to keep getting validation from others, preferably people who are as high up the totem pole as possible.

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