Prospecting is painful to most people. I’ve seen countless situations where management stops pushing and holding the team accountable to prospecting activity, call avoidance sets in, and the sales people start to focus on any customer service issue, logistical issue, or existing customer to avoid making cold calls on potential new business.

Yet new customers are the lifeblood of any business. So why are so many sales people so fearful or dismayed of making new prospect calls?

I believe it comes down to a misunderstanding of the No. Sales people, like all humans dislike rejection. They see pain in being told No. They want to avoid No at any cost. You’ll see these symptoms in a sales person stuck in “Nophobia”:

  • Low outbound prospecting activity
  • Fake outbound prospecting activity (blasting form emails)
  • Many Maybes in their pipeline
  • Rarely admitting that an account is a No
  • Constant focus on current customers

These symptoms prove the fear of No at several points in the sales pipeline. They don’t make calls because they want to avoid No, and when they do make calls, they allow “Maybes, let me think about its, and I’ll call yous” because anything, ANYTHING is better than a No.

The correct approach is not only not to fear the No, but to specifically chase it. Embrace a No as a clear choice that your prospect has made, and as superior to a maybe. Nos are not the enemy, Maybes are! 

The funny thing is that customers hate saying No even more than sales people hate hearing it. That’s why so many of them will say Maybe. Maybe is safe, and involves no decision, no closing out of any options. Many customers hate No so much, that when you take Maybe off the table, they’ll actually gravitate to Yes.

From prospecting to presenting, you should be chasing a simple decision. Yes or no, in or out. That should be based on questioning and understanding your prospect’s world in order to make two determinations. 1.) Is there a compelling issue or problem your product/service can solve or alleviate?
2.) Does the prospect realize the presence of that issue/problem?

That’s it. It is that simple. From that foundation you can help your prospect get to a decision point. No is fine. Yes is great. Maybe is a disaster. A sign that you either didn’t find the problem, or find the decision maker.

Prospecting is far less painful when you are chasing Nos.