Are you closing the larger deals … or settling for the easier targets? Do you look for the good in failure, or do you play the victim and blame external circumstances? Bottom line: You’ll never become a powerful sales pro without hearing the word “no.”

Here are 5 reasons why you need “no”:

If you had never experienced failure, would you be who you are today? Really?

I’ve interviewed thousands of sales leaders over the years and when I asked them, “If you had one ‘do-over,’ what would it be?” almost all said something like, “Nothing. My mistakes have gotten me to where I am today.”

Of course, when they’re fresh, mistakes hurt. But if you look back over your life, my guess is it’s the times when you’ve changed careers, lost your partner, or endured some other hardship that you really grew. You emerged from these setbacks stronger — with new skills and experiences.

We all have fears. And the fear of rejection often tops the list. This fear holds some people back from prospecting; even picking up the phone can be terrifying.

I find that when I distinguish exactly what my fears are and ask myself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” I feel less scared. The truth is, the worst thing is typically that I may feel embarrassed or unworthy — and that’s not as bad as not going after what I want.

Stop taking “nos” personally and your embarrassment and shame will start to disappear.

After all, haven’t you said “no” to someone you like and admire? Sometimes the timing was wrong. Sometimes the offer wasn’t right. You had to say “no.” If you can say it, you can hear it.

Have you ever landed a sale with zero objections?  I mean, not one “no” or even an “I’m uncomfortable with this or that?” If so, that’s not selling; that’s just taking an order. You might as well ask, “Do you want fries with that?” Objections are a critical part of your sales process. Objections mean your customer is interested. Hooray! If they weren’t interested, they wouldn’t put out the energy.

My friend John sold encyclopedias door to door in college. Anyone who has ever done this type of sales knows how demoralizing it can be. Most people shoo you away the moment they see you coming.

But John had a mentor who told him something he never forgot. “Go to the houses with the signs that say, ‘No soliciting.’ They’re your best customers.”

John was baffled. “How can that be?” he asked. “Clearly they’re not interested in buying,” he said. “That’s why they have a sign.”

“Quite the opposite,” said his mentor. “They’re so scared they’re going to buy that they put up signs so they can avoid the temptation.”

John took the advice to heart. He targeted those homes with the signs and sold to nearly every one of them. He became the top salesman in his region.

The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference. When prospects are indifferent to your offer, that’s cause for concern. When they object, at least they’re engaged.

When I first started selling, I decided to learn rebuttals for every possible objection the customer could throw at me. I became an objection fighter, a gladiator.

It wasn’t until I watched my mentor handle objections that I learned my approach was inappropriate. By answering them instantly, I was in effect proving my customers wrong. I was invalidating their concerns rather than welcoming them.

When customers feel shut down every time they express a concern, they stop telling you their concerns. Instead say, “Tell me more. How does that affect you? How has a decision like this backfired in the past?”

Getting through the “nos” in your life takes courage. But keep in mind: The word “courage” originates from the root “cor” — the Latin word for heart. When you care enough about your product, your customers, and yourself, your heart will outweigh your fear.

The Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz traveled far, risked his life, and defeated the Wicked Witch of the West in the hopes that when he reached the Emerald City, the great Oz would grant him courage. But when the curtain fell away, the wizard was revealed to be a little man speaking in a megaphone, frantically tugging at levers.

It’s all smoke and mirrors. Too often salespeople hope someone, anyone, will tell them the secret to overcoming fear. But no one will ever hand you a badge of courage unless you earn it — which is exactly what the Lion had already done on the way to meet Oz.

Courage isn’t something that happens to you; it’s generated by your actions. Courage must be practiced. If you wait until the fear goes away before you take action, the inspiration will never come.

Once you understand why you need the “nos” — and actually seek them out — you’ll uncover objections, make the tough calls, and find creative ways to break through walls and barriers that before stopped you in your tracks. Nice guys don’t finish last — quitters do. Just ask the Cowardly Lion.

Stop taking “nos” personally and your embarrassment and shame will start to disappear.”

Shari Levitin | Trainer, Speaker, and Author of "Heart and Sell"
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