What to do When Your Prospect Tells You “No”


After someone refuses to buy from you, you might have emotions of anger, sadness, frustration, and disappointment. You might even feel a wave of humiliation crash over you, followed by panic. For salespeople, being told “no” can be the worst thing that can happen professionally. It means that we did not do our primary job successfully, so it’s a huge blow to the self-esteem.

After you hear the dreaded final “no,” your first instinct might be to get out of the conversation as quickly as possible. Why stick around after being rejected? If the prospect refuses to buy, you should get away as quickly as possible so you don’t waste any more time, right?

Wrong. What you do after the rejection is ironically as important as anything else in the sales process. Although the prospect is not ready to buy from you right now, the possibility exists that they might be ready in the future. If you accidentally burn the bridge here, the chance of saving the sale later on down the road becomes zero. If you want any chance of saving the sale for a later date, you have to be able to dust off the rejection and leave on good terms with the prospect.

Be respectful

The worst thing that you can do here is express anger or frustration towards the prospect. Remember, the prospect is very defensive at this point. Expressing that you are mad at them for not buying is a great way for the prospect to get upset with you. Think about the last time a salesperson became disrespectful when you did not buy something. It probably left a bad taste in your mouth for the salesperson and for the company. Even if you were going to buy later on, now you are questioning that decision. If this happens in the mind of a prospect, the chance of a prospect buying from you down the line greatly diminishes.

To avoid this from happening, restrain your negative emotions and be respectful towards the prospect. Look them in the eyes, smile, shake their hand, and thank them for their time and for listening. This will certainly be tough to do, but it’s important for the prospect to feel respected and appreciated. In many instances, it can take more than one interaction to close a prospect. During my first sales job post-graduation, you were considered successful if you could close the prospect in under seven interactions. It’s important for the prospect to leave this interaction and be OK with seeing you again.

Dust off

Dusting off a rejection can quickly get awkward.  Being rejected is an unpleasant and uncomfortable feeling, so it’s only natural to react accordingly. Unfortunately, salespeople really don’t get this luxury. They have to dust off rejection with the same confidence as before.

As we already said, part of being respectful is looking them in the eyes, smiling, shaking their hand, and thanking them for their time and for listening. This is a great way to display body language to show that you remain confident in yourself and the product/service. It’s not just about what you physically do though – you have to tell the prospect that you understand. You also should tell the prospect that you respect their decision.

  • “Mr. Jones, I understand and respect your decision. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to listen to me.”

Part of the dust off step is keeping the sales process open. If possible, ask the prospect if you can set a future appointment to discuss the matter further; perhaps at that time you will have a new product/service to offer that will fit their needs better. Or you can leave your information with the prospect and request that if they have any further questions to give you a call. Even if the prospect just calls about a simple question, it’s still another interaction, which means another chance to sell. The idea is to increase the chance of speaking with the prospect again. Even if it’s something as simple as a coffee break! Whatever you can do to get in front of that prospect again will at least give you another chance to close.

  • “Mr. Jones, I understand and respect your decision. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to listen to me. Here is my card with my number on it. If you have any questions about anything at all, just give me a call and I’d be happy to help.

Understand that this happens to everyone

Finally, understand is that this is very common. This happens to every single salesperson on the planet. It does not matter how amazing someone is. It doesn’t matter if someone is the number one performer in the company. At some point, everybody ends up here. In most cases, the best salespeople are here the most often! The point being, you are not the first person to fail.

The difference between top performers and those who continue to end up here is that the top performers learn from their failed sales calls. Rather than viewing it as an utter failure, they view it as a learning opportunity to get better. Part of getting better is studying your mistakes and working to overcome them before the next call. Do this enough and you will improve.



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Author: Jason Karaman

Hello! I’m a marketing, sales, and customer service author, blogger and doer. I live in the South Carolina Lowcountry with my wife. I enjoy reading, writing, hiking, kayaking, and all things beach. For media inquiries, send an email to JasonKaraman@ExpertCaller.com

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