Why The Word NO In Sales Is Not As Bad As It Seems!

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Welcome to a festive edition of the blog! How has your week of the year been going? For most of us in sales, it’s a time where most people take time off, and the last week or two before Christmas is pretty dead.

I’m usually in the same boat, although I have one particularly driven client at the moment who was still pedal to the metal up until Christmas Eve. She’s unstoppable – and rather inspiring, actually.

Taking a leaf out of this client’s book, it’s never the wrong time to do a little thinking and a little learning, so here are my thoughts on one of sales’ most feared words


Let’s face it, “no” has pretty negative connotations! No wonder so many salespeople think that hearing it during a sales meeting is a bad sign. There’s even a school of sales training that says you must avoid words with negative feelings at all costs.

It’s one of the shorter words in the dictionary, but it can cause some to become so flustered that they don’t take a sales action even when that means they could struggle to hit targets or even lose their job!

A lot of people focus on “yes”, and waste a lot of emotional (and sometimes physical) energy on trying to steer meetings towards a series of “yes” answers to build some sort of positive momentum.

Imagine how much more power and confidence you could have if you actually embrace “no”! What could happen if you make “no” your friend? Instead of dreading it, how about getting excited to hear it?



Does that sound a bit fanciful to you? Well, here are a few reasons why hearing the word ‘No’ can actually be your best friend in Sales.

It can save you time

Most salespeople waste far too much of their precious time trying to engage with prospects that aren’t worth it. Either they simply aren’t in the market, or they don’t have a major problem to solve or a need to fulfil.

Once you’ve built a basic relationship with a prospect, and you feel there might be scope to develop them further, ask them if they want to move things forward. In an ideal world, of course, they’ll say “yes”. But if they don’t, and if our friend “no” makes an appearance, this is great news!

It means you now know there’s no point in spending further precious time on this prospect, freeing you up to engage with other, better leads.

Use “No” as a motivating target

What? Actively seek out the N-word? Have I gone mad? Possibly, but that’s a different story. What I’m talking about is using no’s as an aid to that most hated of sales tasks – making prospecting phone calls.

Very few of us actively enjoy hitting the phones in this way, partly due to the number of times we will hear “no”! But instead of it getting you down as you don’t hit your target of 3 “yes” calls, why not target getting 10, 20 or 30 “no’s”?

This is something I do all the time. If I know I have a 2-hour window for prospecting, I will try and get 20 no’s! If I do hit that target, I get a reward. Whatever motivates you – a glass of wine later, a mince pie, whatever!


Saying “no” puts your prospect in control

What do you say when you walk into a shop and an assistant asks ‘can I help you?’ Most of the time most of us say “No, I’m fine thanks.” We do this even when you might actually want something! But why?

Saying “no” gives us a feeling of control – and everyone likes to feel that they are in control, no matter what the situation.

In his brilliant book ‘Never Split the Difference’, Chris Voss actively encourages you to get your prospect to say “no” because when you do this you have a far better chance of working with them.

For example, you could ask a prospect who you have been working with for a while: “It sounds like you don’t think we are a good fit for working together?”

If they do like you and what you do then they are going to say “No, that’s not the case. I like the service but I just need to get some things in place before we go ahead”.

You can now cover these points knowing that the prospect does actually want to continue. The fact that they said no means they now feel they are controlling things, even though we have engineered that feeling for them. Powerful stuff.

No is a word YOU should use…

Or at least you should make it clear to a prospect that you have doubts. Don’t let objections be the sole domain of prospects! Why do I say this?

Say you have a prospect who you don’t think is a good fit for you, or who you feel might become a problem customer. You should say: “Thanks for your time, Peter, but I don’t think we would be right for you and your business, so working together isn’t a good option for both of us”.

When you say this, you will be amazed at the responses you can get. I have had a prospect even offer to pay more money to use us because we have been in control and they have not wanted to miss out on the chance to get us on board.


So there you go, just a few reasons why “No” doesn’t have to be a bad word! Used in the right way it can help to give people a feeling of control – and that includes you!

What examples do you have where “no” turned things around into a “yes”? What techniques do you use to “reward” hitting the no’s when you’re prospecting?

As ever, I really enjoy hearing from you on these topics, and I’m more than happy to talk about how I might be able to help you take your sales to the next level. You can always get in touch by emailing hello@jameswhite.business You can also find me on the social networks – LinkedIn, Youtube, Facebook – by searching for “jameswhitesales”. Let me know what topics you’d like me to cover next.

Finally, I wish you and yours a peaceful, restful and fun-filled Christmas. Enjoy a well-deserved break and a recharge. I’ll be back next week talking about goals and plans for 2020.

Until then, Happy Christmas from everyone on the James White team.



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