How to Get from “Not Now” to “Yes”. Why Effective Listening Skills Matter!

by | Jun 3, 2014

How to get to Yes?

Objections are par for the course in Sales. How to get to Yes requires a lot of skill, training, experience and patience!

“Put that coffee down! Coffee’s for closers only!”

In the 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Blake (played by Alec Baldwin) stresses the importance of the ABCs: Always Be Closing. For him, the sale and the close are what matter—no matter how you get there or what comes next.

In reality, professional sales persons have learned that this approach won’t take you very far. Prospects who may transition from “not now” to “yes” are far more than just warm leads; they are potential long-term customers and referral sources with the ability to inject lifeblood into your business.



How you handle these prospects and help them arrive at a mutually beneficial decision make all the difference. Using “trial closes” (a way of testing the waters) or closing on elements of your conversation helps you discover what your prospect is thinking. In this way, you can move the conversation forward.

“No” Means “No” (Unless It Means “Not Now”)

It is common is business to hear that a sales prospect isn’t ready to make a purchase immediately. The relationship might be strong, and the product or service may be appropriate, but the prospect needs more information.

New sales team members—especially those inexperienced in sales—are more likely to accept “no” for an answer; in fact, the real answer might be “not now,” and the situation may just call for a follow-up. It can take at least 7 or more points of contact before you can convert your prospect. Most sales people stop after 2 attempts. “How to get to yes” requires persistence and patience.

Whether the information needed to make the sale can be gleaned from a third party that day, or even weeks later, teach your sales team to use the following respectful and generally successful approaches. If they do, they’ll likely find a clear path from “not now” to “yes.”

The Worst Way to Follow Up

“Convincing style” sales reps, like our friend Blake, might try to schedule a follow-up call or appointment on their terms by saying such things as, “Why don’t I call you on Tuesday at 10? Would Wednesday at 2 be better?” This “push ’n prod” method is manipulative. It’s unlikely that either option will be convenient or optimal for the prospect because it is not on the prospect’s terms.

Zig Ziglar (an American author, salesman, and motivational speaker) once said, “Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, or no trust.” The last obstacle is key in the process of how to get to yes: “trust.” In each of these approaches, the salesperson has not established trust or a real relationship with the prospect. Because of this fact, he or she won’t be able to surmount the remaining four obstacles.

A Better Way to Follow Up

Rather than following our friend Blake and his ABC mantra (Always Be Closing), consider a new approach: “Always Be Listening.” A “not now” is a golden opportunity to explore a prospect’s concerns, which may sound like objections, and understand the value that you can provide by continuing the conversation.

Lower the bar and minimize your risk by getting permission from your prospect. Remember to use this valuable phrase: “Would you object if I were to follow up with you?”

The easiest response for the prospect is to say “no.” While such a response can carry strong negative connotations, a seasoned sales pro understands that this is the one time in a sales conversation that “no” means “yes.” Following this advice is consistent with using a conversation style for “possibility and opportunity.”

Then, ask the next question: “How would you like me to follow up with you?” Once you do this, listen very carefully, repeat what you heard, and do exactly what the client asks. You can rely on the fact that the prospect will always tell you exactly what they want you to do, and they will remember it, too. This is the way to leave a “not now” sales conversation complete, with nobody feeling as if they’re being manipulated. The most desirable outcome is that you are creating “trust.”

If the prospect agrees to a follow-up, your salesperson has an obligation to keep the negotiations alive. If the prospect responds, “No, do not call me again” or “Don’t call me on this subject because I’m not interested in this,” it is clear that no further time or resources should be dedicated to this prospect, and you can clear your pipeline.

Teaching your team how to handle “not now” is a valuable strategy. How to get to yes requires overcoming a succession of initial steps that keep you in the conversation, building trust and credibility along the way. For more information on acquiring new business skills for your team, please contact me for a free introductory coaching session.

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