Don’t Walk Away With Nothing

Important Sales Insight: People often feel guilty about saying “no.”

After you’ve spent time trying to persuade them to buy something, they feel bad about just saying “no.” They may say “no,” but there is lingering guilt for having wasted your time.

This is especially true if you’ve been helpful and informative. As a salesperson (and we are all salespeople), you should take advantage of that feeling. Not in a direct way, because that will create resentment. But indirectly and subtly.

Let’s say you are trying to sell a customer a new database-management software package. When he hears the price — half a million dollars — he says, “No way. That’s way too expensive for me.”

You should then employ the “drop in the bucket” technique. In other words, show him that $500,000 is nothing compared with what he will make and save by using your new software.

If he still he says “no,” don’t take that as final. Every time he says “no,” his piggy bank of guilt gets fuller.

So now what you do is unveil Option B.

In this case, it’s revamping his existing software for $150,000. He listens at first because he feels he owes it to you — and because the price is so much lower. But you hit him with benefit after benefit, pitching this second option with as much force as you did the first one.

At some point, he may begin to feel that he is getting as much value for $150,000 as he would have gotten by investing $500,000. When that happens, he will give you signals. He may nod his head. He may make conciliatory remarks. When he does, he’s ready to buy. Go for it.

If Option B doesn’t work, you now have three golden coins in the guilt piggy bank. Launch immediately into Option C.

With each consecutive option rejected, the piggy bank gets fuller. The final option is something like, “I’m going to go back to the drawing board and see if I can come up with a solution that meets all your needs, including pricing. If I can do that, will you be willing to listen?”

Ninety-nine percent of your prospects will give you a “yes.” So instead of walking away with nothing, you’ve got a relationship with someone who will be favorably inclined to buy something from you if you can meet his needs.

Accumulate 10 such “guilty” prospects and you’ve got several sales waiting to happen.

Bonus Application: This technique works just as well when you’re trying to sell ideas.

Let’s say you want to persuade your partner to invest in a new product line to add balance to your business. The budget you’ve prepared will require $250,000 over six months. He doesn’t like the risk. So you shoot back with an alternative — a way to try out part of the new line to get an indication of whether it would work. This would cost only $65,000. It will be difficult for him to say “no.” But if he does, you keep going until you get a “yes” to something. That something is a psychological check that he will be inclined to cash sometime in the future.

The trick to walking away with something is to plan your second and third options in advance. Each offer must be hard-hitting, detailed, and enticing. Get the data you need and double-check your numbers, so it won’t seem as if you are desperately shooting from the hip.