In SaaS sales, SDRs and AEs are faced with a relentless stream of objections, constant refusals and straight up rejections. Not everyone can handle this kind of punishment. That’s why these sales reps are a special breed and a critical part of any company.
Overcoming the constant barrage of no’s is not an easy feat. There are many things that you can do to prepare yourself, but many of them are not taught in employee onboarding or can be found in the latest book of closing techniques. A sales mentor of mine used to say, “If you need to close, you opened poorly.”
There are two ways successful sales reps deal with this challenge: internally and externally. The most successful sales reps know best what to tell their prospects and what to tell themselves when faced with a “no.”
Learning how to externally deal with prospects after hearing “no” is more than rebutting objections and trying a different closing technique. You have to understand the real reason behind the “no.”
Learning what to say to yourself — and how to handle the emotions that go hand in hand with frequent rejection — is equally important.
I’m sure you’ve worked with the rep that is always happy, smiling and in a good mood. People often chock it up to genetics: “It’s in her DNA. She’s just a positive person.” Though it may be true that she’s a positive person, attributing happiness and her success in sales to genetics is inaccurate. The real forces at work are mental toughness and emotional dexterity.
Human resource development specialist Jamie Ford distinguished the difference between positive attitude and mental toughness:
“Mental toughness is something much more fundamental and valuable. It’s the foundation of the house, while a positive attitude is merely the interior decorating.”
Mental toughness is being able to deal with stress, recover from mistakes, make necessary adjustments on the fly and maintain confidence in yourself while under pressure.
Easier said than done. Without going too deep on this topic, I’ll channel my inner Tony Robbins and offer some advice on how you can develop mental toughness. This has helped me in my sales career, and I hope you find it useful.
How To Stay Mentally Tough When Faced With “No”
- Exert Control over the Situation: Determine that you are in control over the situation. Determine that you can and will get positive results even when faced with rejection. Perception is reality.
- Let Go of Your Ego: Believe it or not, it’s not always about you. The prospect is not saying no to you, he/she is saying no to the product. As Dr. Maxwell Maltz wrote, “You are not your failures.”
- “No” Does Not Always Mean “No”: Don’t confuse rejection with refusal. I’m not suggesting you pester your prospects into submission until they say “yes.” This “don’t take no for an answer” approach is what gave sales a dirty name in the first place. But realize that “no” could mean “not now.” Following up appropriately and offering true value often leads to a “yes” in the end.
- Learn: Everything is a learning opportunity. Once you take that perspective, then you can move on and become stronger. Failure only comes when you fail to learn the lesson.
There’s much more that goes into the psychology of a salesperson. However, I’m not a psychiatrist, nor do I play one on the Internet. I highly encourage you to learn more about this topic by reading books like The New Psycho-Cybernetics, Mindset, and Think and Grow Rich.
Now, on to more tactical advice when facing the constant barrage of no’s. It’s imperative to understand why people say no.
5 Most Common Reasons People Say No & How To Get To Yes
- The Prospect Does Not Fully Understand The Promise: If you pitch too aggressively and attempt close too early, the prospect inevitably won’t understand the promise you’re making and how you will fulfill on that promise. Confused prospects do nothing. This often happens because salespeople are too eager. The fix? Be more patient!However, there’s a more common reason: The “curse of knowledge.” This is the dilemma we face when we’re so familiar with our product that we can’t imagine someone not fully understanding it as we do. Our assumptions lead us astray.You should not and cannot presume knowledge and understanding on your prospect’s behalf! Take your time with each prospect and fully develop their needs. I like the SPIN Selling framework for this. Most of your time should be spent in the Problem and Implication stages.
- The Prospect Does Not Trust You: We only buy from people we trust. However, trust is not easy to come by these days, and we often underestimate the challenge of gaining someone’s confidence. Consumers have all been burned before by empty promises and defective products. Due to these past experiences, it’s an uphill battle to gain their trust. There are many things a prospect is trying to answer in their own head about you. “Is she/he telling the truth? Is she/he knowledgeable? Does she/he care about me or just pushing product to hit quota?” and on and on.Getting past this is no easy feat. There’s a difference between getting a customer to make a sale, and making a sale to get a customer. Building credibility, authority, expertise and ultimately trust takes time and patience, but it’s worth it. A trusting relationship will result in purchases of larger quantity, frequency and monetary value. I’ve written extensively on the how to leverage 6 psychological triggers to gain trust and sell more here.
- The Prospect Does Not Believe in Himself/Herself: This manifests itself in that the prospect doesn’t believe in himself/herself to follow through. For example, I have a friend who needs to lose some weight. P90X has been recommended to him by numerous people who have lost weight following that program. He 100% believes in the product and that it worked for them, but he doesn’t trust himself to follow the workout routine.The most powerful way to overcome this is to have powerful testimonials that match closely with the prospect. If your prospect is a CIO at an analytics company, find a testimonialfrom a CIO at an analytics company. This sale is often a motivational sale too, meaning you have to channel your inner Tony Robbins and convince the prospect they can do it this time, their past need not control their future, and to “believe in yourself!”
- The Prospect Is Not Willing to Pay the Price: Though Account Executives will deal with this more, SDRs still have to face this one frequently. The most common reaction is to offer a discount. Big mistake. This devalues you and your product. Take a strong stand with your product and step back with your prospect. Help them fully understand the benefits and translate the value for them. Going back to SPIN Selling, take what you learned in the Implications stage and reiterate it for them. Keep digging into the pain or motivation, with an approach similar to the 5 Whys methodology.However, if you feel this is not the problem behind the objection, there is another factor to consider. Maybe you’re on the phone with the wrong prospects. This will require a more adept selection and targeting of the appropriate prospects, whether through your inbound marketing or your outbound prospecting.
- The Prospect Cannot Justify the Purchase: Rarely does a purchase happen in a vacuum and only involve one party. The buyer commonly has to justify the purchase to other parties. This could be a required explanation to a boss or it could be self-imposed pressure to give a reason to a spouse. You can never count on a prospect to adequately sell your product as well as you can. Just the thought of being criticized, ridiculed or otherwise unable to defend the purchase is enough to turn away an otherwise ready, willing and able buyer.You must arm your prospect with sufficient ammunition to go into battle on your behalf. This can range from one-pagers to explainer videos to actual role plays. It starts with being upfront with your prospect and letting them know you understand their situation. Only then can you prepare together.
Inevitably, you’ll find yourself up against a difficult prospect. If you want to achieve success in sales, you have to prepare from both a mental and tactical perspective. If you want a positive outcome when faced with negative situations, dealing properly with “no” will ultimately lead to a big “yes.”
To that end, I want to leave you with a quote. In his classic book, Salesmanship For the New Era (1929), Charles A. Mears writes:
He writes, “Nothing in this world is a detached phenomenon. Everything in this world is the result of some precedent causes. Therefore, if a salesman has done his work well, adequately building up in the mind of the prospect that desire which should normally culminate in a sale, the actual work of closing, far from being difficult, should be the easiest part of the whole procedure, as plucking ripe apples is the easiest part of fruit growing. Making a sale is not a trick that causes the prospect suddenly to reach one big decision to buy. Rather, it is a series of small decisions, just as climbing a flight of steps isn’t one jump from the bottom to top but a succession of easy steps.”
Stay tuned for more of the latest in outbound sales best practices and methods.
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