The story:

“So,” continued Melinda on the phone, “Would it be fair to say that it’s over?”

“I think so,” responded Beth. “But I want you to know that I really appreciate the fact you’ve been so diligent in getting back to me the past month.”

“This may sound like a dumb thing to ask, but I just want to be clear ... .” Melinda asked and waited for a response.

“Go ahead, it probably isn’t dumb,” said Beth.

Melinda went on, “Knowing that we aren’t going to do business, I’m curious: Why did you ever consider us?”

After a long, uncomfortable silence, Beth said, “Well, I don’t think I ever told you why I called to begin with. You were recommended by John Tate over at the Porter Corporation. He couldn’t say enough about you.”

Melinda said, “That’s interesting; I’ll have to thank him. But now there’s a problem. Maybe you could suggest how I deal with it.”

“What’s that?” asked Beth.

“Well, this is kind of embarrassing for me. … I’m going to call John, thank him, and then he’s probably going to ask me what happened. I’m not sure what should I tell him?”

Another uncomfortable pause of silence ensued. “Well, it seemed that we needed better terms with your company than you could give; I don’t suppose you could help us out with that.”

Melinda then asked, “By better terms, you mean … ?”

Now re-engaged, Beth said, “Well, on the large orders like we talked about, if somehow we could have ...”

The result:

Melinda turned this “no” decision into a situation where the prospect reconsidered. In addition, she learned that Beth’s company needed more flexibility. Whether this prospect can be accommodated is something Melinda’s company will have to decide. Melinda turned a “no” into a “Let’s work on it.”

The approach:

If the prospect figures that the pressure for her to make a buying decision is over, just about any question you ask her at that point will be answered. Once she makes that “no” decision, she’s relieved. Once you seem to accept the “no” decision, she’s even more relieved:“Thank God that’s over with.”

Yes, it may be over. No matter what you do now, you won’t make the sale. But you need to try one last time so that the “end it” decision is yours. “Why did you ever consider us?” you ask. As you saw in the story, the prospect began reciting all of the reasons why she should be doing business with the salesperson.

The thought:

You have nothing to lose by asking a prospect who has told you “No, thanks” to give you one more chance to get back in and do business. Try it on your next rejection sales call.


Bob Bolak is president of Sandler Training. He can be contacted at  bbolak@sandler.com.