I remember clearly one of the early conversations I had with Jim Camp, author of Start With No. Jim and I had become good friends very quickly. We shared a true passion about the power of NO. America’s number one negotiating coach, Jim passed away in November of 2014 and the world misses his practical wisdom every day. This day Jim and I were talking about the power of process versus outcome and what NO might mean along the way. One of Jim’s statements sounds in my head on a daily basis: “Stop trying to control the outcome, focus on your behavior and actions instead.”
What I have learned along the way is that NO is just a word, but one to which we give way too much implied power. It is a word that requires context to give it any substance. It can be a perceived wall maker, a conversation branch creator, or an absolute command. In the business of selling and or negotiating you have to get over the fear of hearing or saying NO.
Hearing NO in the selling process most typically means that in the conversations leading up to receiving the NO, you did a rather poor job of using great questioning to lead to understanding. Jim said something else to me that day: “Control what you can control, and forget the rest.”
In this case that means we can only control ourselves and our process and questions – we cannot control the outcome. At every NO, we have a chance to branch and continue. We have to become masters at understanding and using great questions that are led by an interrogative. The good questions start with who, what, when, where, why, how, and which. All of them are intended to create dialog, extend the conversation, and figure out more about the client than ever before.
NO is just not all that complex. We make way too much out of it in the selling process. It is our job to understand the points that create NO, and that is ok to get to NO, on both parties behalf. When one path ends in a NO, then create another path based on a different who, what, where, when, etc. question; each time gathering more understanding and information along the way. And each of those conversations create more curiosity that enables further conversations. This all comes back to the basics of Question Based Selling with Tom Freese and conversational layering principles – deliver a bit of credibility that creates some curiosity and gets you the next mini-invitation to continue the conversation. And it can all START with NO.