The Bad Behaviors Driving “No”
Every salesperson pays a high price for the bad behaviors—often stemming from poor and outdated sales approaches—their client has seen from past salespeople. It’s almost better to follow an utterly incompetent salesperson than one who uses the same old, tired discovery call that’s now completely commoditized, providing no differentiation and even less value. With a truly awful competitor, you can at least count on the contrast working in your favor.
While we spend a lot of time working to acquire a meeting, we also must learn to understand and address the reasons that decision-makers and decision-shapers refuse meetings. This is especially true when you have been taught and trained to use strategies and tactics that actually cause resistance to a meeting. Here are several reasons your prospective clients say no.
Wasting Their Time
There is only one real reason a prospect says no to a request for a meeting, the core issue behind every objection: they believe meeting with you would be a waste of their time. Now, before you insist that you’d never waste your client’s time, ask yourself: if you had to sit through dozens of meetings with salespeople who wasted your time, time you can never get back, would you be in a hurry to schedule another meeting? And if not, why don’t you promise not to waste your own clients’ time?
Providing Little to No Value
Much of the time, prospects who agree to a meeting actually need help improving their results—which means they need to learn something new. Unfortunately, many, and maybe most, salespeople create too little value during the time their client has set aside for that education. Instead, the client is treated to a conversation about the salesperson’s company and their solutions, followed by a desperate attempt to identify the problem and the accompanying pain.
For decades, we have pursued success through a linear sales process that insists that discovery is about finding a problem, even one that the client already knows about without the salesperson’s help. It’s long past time to measure success based on the outcomes we create for prospective clients, starting with the value we provide during the sales conversation.
Pitching Your Product or Service as a Solution
Your prospects often feel a sense of remorse after allowing a salesperson into their office. Most salespeople, believing they have one shot, follow the training they received from their product manager: they quickly pitch their product or service, calling it a “solution,” another word that strikes fear in the heart of would-be prospects. One too many pitches like that, and you’ll find a decision-maker saying no to every meeting request, even one from an innocent, value-creating professional like you.
You may now have to provide your prospective client with a sort of risk reversal, promising that you will not pitch them but instead provide an executive briefing they will benefit from—even if there is no progress toward a deal.
Being Unprepared to Consider Change
Over the last four decades, decision-makers and decision-shapers have become less and less prepared to even consider change. A large part of the resistance comes from the difficulty changing a time of uncertainty, and some of it stems from the increasingly challenging internal process for any change initiative.
One way to loosen the status quo’s grip on your prospective client is to nurture relationships and share insights in advance of any attempt to open a conversation about change. Change is the heart and soul of sales, as it is only through change can your client improve their results, but that doesn’t make it any less scary.
Buyers Who Believe They Don’t Need a Salesperson’s Help
One of the major trends that has disrupted B2B sales is decision-makers’ tendency to “consumerize” B2B sales, treating them as if they were B2C transactions. Rather than risk allowing another salesperson into their office and their life, these stakeholders decide to go it alone: researching companies on the Internet, mistaking information for insight, and overvaluing facts where experience and good counsel is needed.
You need to make your first shot count, providing your client with an insight or a perspective that knocks them out of their socks. The game plan is “I know something you don’t know, and you would benefit from knowing it.”
Your Clients Avoid Bad Experiences
When a professional experience isn’t good, you do whatever you can not to relive it. Your clients are no different. Now, there is nothing you can do about your prospect’s past experiences, including the coma-inducing punishment your competitors doled out over the course of forty-five minutes. But you can make certain that every interaction you have a prospect provides such a good experience that they will open their calendar and schedule you in for the same time the following week.
A better prospective client experience is built on creating value for your contacts, be they decision-makers, decision-shapers, or some other stakeholder. You can think of this as a facilitated, needs-based buyer’s journey, using your experience to guide your client from their current state to the better outcomes they need.
The keys to differentiating yourself and creating a preference to buy from you are enabled by providing a much better experience of the sales conversation. Your number one initiative should be increasing your effectiveness as the person guiding your prospective client through the process of exploring change, pursuing better results, and delivering new and better outcomes.