I read a really interesting article in Inc. magazine and think it’s insightful for sales professionals, and anyone building a sales organization.

What caught my eye was the importance of getting to “No” – every single sale.

Why? It means the profit is maximized.

It isn’t enough to just sell a suit – until the client or customer has expressly said “that’s enough” aka “no”, the correct followup is “that’s a very prestigious suit. Have you seen these new belts and neckties? Sometimes the details really complete the picture.” – go for the upsell, cross sell, and referrals.

Sales Psychologist G. Clotaire Rapaille makes his living studying sales professionals and helping them achieve greater success. One of the most important functions a sales manager and/or CEO can do is creating a sales culture of “happy losers” who know that “no” is a good thing – constant no’s mean profit has been maximized, and the number of “no’s” per week should be charted with total sales volume – most of the time, there’s a direct correlation. More no’s means more yes’es.

We’ll be shortly adding a report into SwiftCRM to compare the total number of “not interested” prospects to the leads converted and total sales completed.

In this article, another good question asked was whether “happy losers” are born that way, or trained, and the answer is both. It’s up to the manager and sales team to foster an environment wherein “no” is recognized as part of the game and truly a good thing, simply a sign that particular client is not interested at that time – and depending on the ratios, perhaps the immediate value proposition and opening lines need to be honed. Personally, I was almost always spite motivated: anyone telling me I couldn’t do something meant that I absolutely, positively had to do it, and then make sure they got the press release when in fact I did it.

That’s a bit melodramatic, but it’s part of the sales game – panning for gold means dumping out a lot of rocks.

Another benefit to the “Happy Losers Anonymous” environment is that if a game is made of it, it provides a forum for immediate and frequent “post mortems” on a client engagement. Each time you have a no, especially if it is a major client, you have a learning opportunity and making it a game keeps the levity up so everyone is excited to get back on the horse.

One trick Mr. Rapaille looks for during candidate screening of potential sales employees is their ability to get back up after a failure. The typical response is to focus only on wins, and most commonly, sales resumes will contain statements like “At XYZ Company I helped increase sales by 42% in 12 months”. First, these statements are often incomplete, because if the company increased marketing by 300% in those same 12 months, that might not even be something to be proud of. Second, it is a statement made outside of context – prices may have gone down, and it doesn’t mean they can necessarily do the same for you. Anyway, examining a candidate’s determination can definitely provide insight as to their disposition.

Further Reading: