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Selling Starts When the Customer Says “No!”

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And Negotiating Begins When You Say “Hello”

“No!” is the most painful, the most frustrating and the most common response that a seller receives from customers or prospects. But psychology teaches us that “No” is what first comes to mind when we are solicited. “No” is more easily said spontaneously than “Yes”, either to protect ourselves from the unknown, from fear of losing control, from fear of engaging, or for any other reason. “No” is a natural reflex. Salespeople, especially those young in the profession, dread this response. However, when a client tells you “Yes” right away, or very quickly, you are actually not in the process of selling. It is the client that is buying.  It’s not by provocation and it’s not to make the act of selling more difficult than it is, but I strongly advocate that “No!” should create a feeling of joy because it is the “No” that gives salespeople the true meaning of their job and the opportunity to demonstrate their talent. In truth, the challenge and the beauty of selling starts with “No!”

Successful selling requires a relationship of trust with your client, which I refer to as “the alliance”, a concept borrowed from coaching. The alliance starts with your very first meeting and must be based on authenticity, respect and empathy – three qualities that are key to successful customer experiences. Successful selling also relies on a specific mindset: one of not accepting – in theory – things as they are. One of not stopping at the first contradiction and looking at the bigger picture when faced with a refusal. One of understanding what is beyond appearances, understanding others, their motivations and their reasons for accepting or refusing what is proposed to them. This mindset is based on empathy, a quality and competence essential in sales. I insist on the term competence because empathy can be learned and developed. It is not up to you to put yourself in the client’s place saying “if I was in your position, here is what I would do”, but rather to help the client by asking yourself “if I was the client, what could I do?” Empathy is the ability to mentally and emotionally identify with others, to understand their point of view and to feel their feelings. That is the true nature of empathy.

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