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Turn Prospecting Rejection Into Future Sales Opportunities

Turn Prospecting Rejection Into Future Sales Opportunities

Sam Manfer

Prospecting rejection hurts. Some targets are gentler with their rejection than others, but the message is the same – “NO”. Once rejected, you’ll be annoying if you keep pushing which could burn a future opportunity. Oh, there are those that attest to their tenacity in turning rejection into a sale. Unfortunately those instances are rare – ½% – 1%.

Prospecting rejection occurs because there is no interest at this moment. No budget, the company is financially strapped, or that would never get approved, are excuses and will leave you in the cold.

“No” is the easiest way to get rid of you and get back to what he or she was doing. Prospecting rejection also occurs because you make it all about you – you wanting to sell something. There may be an interest but for any number of reasons s/he doesn’t want to deal with it now.

The other day a sales person from ADT came into my new office and asked me if I wanted their security services. He said my office has the equipment already and it would only cost me $1 a day. I said no, which he could not appreciate and continued to push. I made it clear I wasn’t interested.

Now if he had taken my original “no” and asked me a few questions about myself, he probably would have made some progress. He could have said something like, “Well, it appears that this system is not right for you, so what are your concerns about security?” I probably would have said that I do not want to write another check every month. I write enough of them. He could have then dealt with that issue. If he was smart, he would have dug deeper, by saying, “And what other issues or feeling do you have about securing your office?” and I probably would have told him. He then would have had a better understanding of my concept with which he could have developed an appropriate next action.

So here is the prospecting script:

After you’ve given your prospecting presentation to a new account and/or with an existing customer and you get a “no” (or any set of excuses indicating a “no”), say:

“I can appreciate that, however, what issues are you facing as it relates to blank blank?”

Let them talk and you listen without pushing your agenda. Explore to learn more.

If s/he says something absurd like, “I want to kill my boss.”

You say, “Oh really, how come?” or “Tell me more.” This will get him/her to give-up some details.

If s/he says, “I have no issues.” Thank him/her, and move-on. There’s no interest.


  1. Keep “I” (meaning you) out of the question. For example, don’t say, “However, ‘I’ was just wondering what issues …” The “I” makes it about you and s/he will check out. S/he doesn’t care about you. The technique is to make it about him/her and make them feel that way. The only way to do that is to make your focus around him/her. Then he’ll open up and talk with you.
  2. When he says something absurd, don’t say, “Well, I can’t help you there.” That gives him the reason to say “Well then, good-bye.” Just acknowledge and get him to tell you more. Don’t say, “Why?” This is confrontational and puts people on the defensive. Make it “How come?” or “What’s that about?” or just, “Tell me more.”
  3. It’s OK to presume he is facing issues/problems and to ask about them. Everyone in business has business problems and they appreciate your attention to them far more than you pushing products/services. However, be sure you frame your questions around the world you work in with the words, “as it relates to blank blank.” i.e. I help people sell more. Therefore, I will say, “What issues are you facing as it relates to sales?” or “your sales team?” or “your customers/prospects, etc?”

Back to the Script

After they reveal their issues, ask, “If I can give you some good suggestions on how to deal/solve/improve these issues, would you be interested in talking with me further?”

If “yes”, set a time to call back. Don’t try to solve it there and then. First you may not be able to solve it. Second, giving it some space shows your sincerity and it’s not just a hollow pitch.

If “no”, then you’re done. Say, “Good night” and put him on the follow-up program.

If he says, “I doubt if you can help me.”

Then you say, “Well you’d be impressed with what my company has done for others like you facing the same tough situations. So unless I do some research, we’ll never know, will we? Can we agree to talk again in 2 weeks?”

Now in this last scenario and the “yes” case, I strongly suggest you ask for more information. Such as, “So tell me a little more about this issue so I can solicit the best resources.”

Bottom line; accept the “no,” but find out how come. Ask the prospect to tell you about his issues, as they relate to your world. From here you can grasp a handhold, if you choose. You may decide from the insights provided that this person is a looser and you’re best to move-on. If not, you’ll have some ammunition to start a meaningful dialogue that can lead to a professional relationship. This approach will make prospecting a more interesting experience and far more rewarding. Now go and try the prospecting scrip. Structure it to your own style and words.