There are just three things to do when a prospect says “No”. First you say “Ok” and then you say “Good-bye” and then you hang up. However, the way you do each of these makes a lot of difference. The meaning that the listener perceives is greatly influenced by your tone and timing.
The tone should be emotionally neutral, matter-of-fact, as if you were making a simple statement that has no “attitude”. It should not convey your frustration about hearing “no” from yet another prospect. It should not reveal your boredom with the process of making call after call. It is also very important that your tone does not communicate an enthusiasm or friendliness that the prospect is likely to presume is faked.
The timing should clearly separate the “Ok” from the “Good-bye”. Say these two words as two separate statements, with a pause in between. Do not act like you are in a rush. After you say “Good-bye” wait a while in silence before you hang up. It’s best to let the other party hang up first.
Keep the intended meaning of each of these three things clearly in your mind when you do them.
- Ok means that you acknowledge and accept what the prospect has just said. It means that you are not going to argue. It demonstrates that you did not have an emotional attachment to that particular outcome. It demonstrates that you listen.
- Good-bye means that you are done with this call. It means that you have nothing more to say. It demonstrates that you are moving on in a businesslike manner.
- Waiting for a while before you hang up means that you are not dismissing the prospect. You are not “slamming the door”. It also gives the prospect an opportunity to ask you not to hang up yet. This does happen, especially after you have called that prospect a few times.
To hear some samples of how to say “Ok … Good-bye”, you can play the following audio
27 thoughts on “How to Say Ok Goodbye When a Prospect Says No”
This article would have helped a lot right after I did the HPS prospecting course. The most difficult thing for me was to say “OK. Good bye,” and nothing else. At first, I wanted to add, “Thank you.” Later, it felt like I should say, “I understand, or I got it, or I heard you, or have a good day.” After a few weeks of sticking to the script, I finally got it, and it was just as Carl describes this article.
“OK. Good bye.”
Thank you Steve. It’s always good to know that you are reading our stuff. Keeps us on our toes.
We are considering making a recording of how to say “Ok… Good-bye…” so that people can hear how it should be said. It would be good to have several different voices do that. Any thoughts?
Sounds like a good idea to me. I imagine it would be much easier to learn by hearing it done than by reading about it. Reminds me of learning to swim or ride a bike; you can read about it for years, but until you jump in the water or get on a bike (the phone), you’re not going to get it.
You could make a Youtube video…
I always find your articles interesting, plus I always agree with them. Good point to share the subtleties. I am finally able to use the skills I’ve learned through reading and rereading your book. I’m in a call center getting businesses to investigate a line of credit that’s already been issued. Mostly, if the client needs funds to sustain or grow their business, it’s a smooth sailing process; however, not always. When it’s not always, I take care to “impersonalize.” I’m one of the more successful at dong my “new” job, for which I give your philosophy, book, training lots of credit.
P.S. By the way, I have NOT been able to find a job, a good job, a well-paying job, due to lots of factors: my age, rural location in Texas, lack of connections and focus. I never even really knew such a job existed. (They need 100 more of us by the way.) Again, thanks. Things are finally looking up for me.
Thank you for your comment Deb, and thank you for giving us an update on how you are doing. Congratulations on your new success, and we wish you even greater successes.
Remember that the methods of High Probability Selling are also very effective for finding a job, and for finding a better one.
I learned that from HPS the book and a few articles a few years ago – now I know the rationale for each segment – instinctively I had it mostly right. No one else had ever taught me such a simple thing – and it’s also based on respect and keeping the potential for a future sale.
Hello Mike. Thank you for mentioning that the rationale is also “based on respect and keeping the potential for a future sale”.
I have just now added an audio sample of how to say “Ok … Good-bye”. Please let us know how it works for you.
Very cool to hear the actual timing…puts it into perspective a lot better, for me at least. Thanks.
I first purchased the book last fall and became a fan. I have since purchase all of the MP3s and have listened to them repeatedly. I have enrolled in the prospecting training and we just completed the 1st week. I have been doing HP prospecting since the 1st of the year and have yet to set an appointment, but my fear of getting on the phone is diminishing. I have had to fight my impulse to say thank you, and it hard not to start selling when someone engages in conversation. I am using okay goodbye to end the call but I was not pausing. When I started to pause, I found people would hang up before I could get the goodbye said. I have listened to Carl’s recording and the recording clears up how to use the salutation. Thanks Carl
Hello Richard and thank you for your comment. Remember that the objective of High Probability Prospecting is not to set appointments, but to find people who want what you are selling and are likely to do business with you, for their own reasons and in their own time. The reason that other salespeople set lots of appointments is that they need lots of opportunities to attempt to change the prospect’s reasons or timing. We do not do that.
Hi Richard and Carl,
For me the hardest part of High Probability Selling is “Don’t be a consultant.” A consultant, according to Webster’s, is “one who gives expert or professional advice.”
At one time or another most salespeople feel an urge to share their wisdom and expertise with prospects. But I can tell you from painful experience that trying to be a consultant will eventually drive you out of sales. Prospects know that a salesperson’s pay depends on a sale being made, so prospects discount, ignore, or “take with a grain of salt” almost everything that a salesperson says.
The most dangerous of all prospects are the “interested” and the “curious.” Like the Sirens of Greek mythology, who lured unsuspecting sailors to their doom, the “interested” and the “curious” will engage you with questions that will be almost impossible to ignore; and you will be consumed by a desire to educate and inform. When you’re done, these “Sirens” will pat you on the head, thank you for your time, and be gone.
Don’t educate. Don’t inform. Don’t tell people how great your company or product is; instead, tell them that not everyone will benefit from what you sell and, in fact, some people shouldn’t buy your product or service at all.
Be the un-salesman: instead of trying to convince prospects, let them convince YOU. This is the essence of High Probability Selling: after saying ‘yes’ to a legitimate offer, the prospect has to answer a dozen or so questions to prove that he’s serious. All that is required of the salesperson are the guts to disqualify those who don’t make the cut.
Lastly, concerning your reply that “it is hard not to start selling when someone engages in conversation,” remember this rule: there are no conversations with prospects. There is nothing to talk about until the prospect says “yes” to an offer. If the prospect does not say “yes” to your offer, the call is over. Contact the next person on your list. If the prospect’s reply is vague, ask for clarification: “Does that mean you want ________, or not?”
High Probability prospects will not allow themselves to be easily disqualified. Let everyone else go in peace; for many are called, few are chosen.
Hello David and thank you for your comment. We would like to post your comment as an article on our blog, with your permission (and listing you as the author). It was very well written, and addresses a topic that we haven’t covered much before. We believe that our readers will benefit from what you have written.
With pleasure, Carl. Feel free to post the article. And thanks for your kind words,
“Many are Called — Few are Chosen” — That’s what I renamed this article for my own computer files. I found this article inspiring.
Reading it made me remember to focus on the basic training in High Probability Selling. I sell for an SEO, and there is a lot of learning/training needed to even understand what I’m selling, so I’m tempted to “share,” and just like David’s article mentioned, especially when anyone starts to talk with me.
Recently, my company put everyone on straight commission without any warning. I’ve found myself frozen as far as calling on my own now. Why is that? Before I was assured a basic hourly with a small bonus for appointments and a bigger bonus for a sale. I was doing fairly well with that set up; however, each day I get up early ready to cold call, and never seem to get to it — day after day. I don’t know what the problem is exactly: fear, waste of time, lack of discipline/focus. None of these reasons seems quite the correct reason to me that I’m not able to make those calls. (I should be rejoicing because I don’t have a supervisor now listening to my every sales call and making comments, sometimes during the call.) It’s a real puzzle to me as to why I’m not making a strong effort to make those calls now.
I believe in the service I’m selling, the people who run it. To be able to honestly believe in what you are selling seems a prerequisite (for me).
Any light you might shine on this dilemma would be greatly appreciated. (I’ve thought about asking for a draw for each appointment to be subtracted from sales, but that seems to be giving up. No one else in the groups has done that (that I know of, of course). One guy got so nervous that he worked 10 hours a day; I reacted in the opposite fashion, and I’m not too proud of myself. I keep wondering if I’m not “cut out for this career,” but I do seem to have the “skill set” for it.
I have so many questions that I would like to ask of you all.
1) Is it all in the numbers, or is the list key?
2) Is selling mostly perseverance/practice, or is it mostly talent?
3) I don’t want to give up until I’ve proven my abilities, but am simply freaked about full commission, and I don’t know why exactly.
4) Would you ask your present company for a small draw if you thought it would make THE difference for you? Or not?
You probably can’t actually answer these questions, some of which are particular to my case, but I just thought I’d reach out. Once I reached out a few years ago, and Jacques picked up the phone and gave me a call. That was great. He helped me with my presentation for the initial contact on the phone.
P. S. I’ve read and reread your book several times, but have never taken a course, which I would love to do, but don’t have the funds at this “moment” in time. 🙂
I’ll tackle your question #2. You asked “is selling mostly perseverance/practice, or is it mostly talent?”
Neither of those is enough.
– Perseverance with ineffective methods is useless.
– Talent in the wrong things is useless.
The key is in doing something that works. The skills can be learned.
I’ve read most all the comments posted on “How to Say Goodbye When a Prospect Says No” with interest. I’ve read the book several times. One of your commenters mentioned having purchased CDs and attended a class and was working hard NOT to say “Thank you.” Women say “thank you” ALL the time — to everybody, as a cultural thing mostly. It seems awkward not to say, “Thank you,” especially at the close of a phone conversation. Is that a cardinal rule NOT to say “Thank you”? If so, could you explain why?
Also, I’m telemarketing these days from home. What is your position about leaving voice messages when that’s offered from the receptionist. I want to talk with the owner/decision maker — and a voice message is heard by them, but of course, it’s second hand.
Please make a youtube of a call in action – perhaps a phone prospecting call. I think that would be a wonderful learning tool. It’s so hard not to say, “Thanks.” I have learned that getting forms and letters delivered via fax and e-mail is not a high probability sales effort.
Thanks for all you do. See, I just had to say it! 🙂
We take “Thank you” very seriously.
Many people say “thank you” as a habit or as a way of making things feel more comfortable, or just to be polite. When used this way, the saying loses its meaning, and the speaker is just “going through the motions”.
If you have an opportunity to say “Thank you” with sincerity and real meaning, then do so. Don’t thank people for trivial things. That devalues your expression of appreciation. Make it count. Save your thanks for things that really matter.
And when someone sincerely thanks you for something, treat that with great respect. Always say “You’re welcome” or “You’re very welcome” or something like that. Never dismiss it with “No problem” or “It’s nothing”.
You were very sincere when you wrote, “Thanks for all you do.” You are very welcome.
You also asked what is our “position” regarding leaving voice messages on answering machines when prospecting.
We know that a few individuals have been very successful with leaving messages, and we also know that most people have not found this to be useful. We are continuing to research the question. Our goal is to understand the details well enough to teach people how to do it with reliable success.
The only people who should be leaving voice messages while prospecting at this point are those who use systems that accurately measure their efforts and their results. Anyone else would be just shooting in the dark.
I didn’t hear yesterday, “OK, good-bye,” and I felt the caller’s frustration – or anger – or whatever else was on his mind.
He stated by asking, “How are you today?” – which got him off to a bad start. Strangers don’t care how I am today – OK – give the guy the benefit of the doubt. He’s doing what he’s been taught or thinks is a polite question to open a solicitation.
He went on to ask if I wanted to donate to a cause. I told him “No.” Instead of saying OK he came back with a second pitch – his script I’m sure as there is always a back up pitch and training says, “People will only say NO so long until they give in and begrudgingly say YES.
Not me – I can keep on saying NO but will hang up first.
So I said NO to the second pitch to which he replied [in a tone of voice I interpreted as being sarcastic or frustrated – I may be wrong – “Good luck.”
Good luck? What did that have to do with the call?
He did a terrible job of asking for money and respecting me.
Sounds like Mike got a call from a “main stream” sales person. My HPS version would be:
“This is Steve Alexander with SKID (Starving Kids in Denver). We send food to hungry kids in Denver. It costs twenty-five dollars and twenty-five cents to feed a kid for a week. Do you want to donate today?”
That’s how to do it, Steve, and a second call back some weeks from now might have caught me willing to send a little support. That being true or not I would have respect for the caller’s approach and his respect of me.
I appreciate your words — your characterization of thank you having meaning, not being trivial. I will practice that in all my dealings. I noticed all during the book that all the telephone conversations didn’t end in that way, but I guess I didn’t get it wholly, not then. Now I do.
Glad to get your quick feedback…
Deb Adams, M. Ed.
I know that this may get us into a long conversation. With that in mind, how do you know when No means “No” or means something else. I am more thinking of B2B sales when and we are really talking about a negotiation and the only reasonable first answer is No. An early yes means nothing as it is impossible to be real, maybe is equally meaningless, but no allows you to dig in and find out what the objection is and how to move past it.
Thanks for the continually provocative insights,
We do not spend any time with someone who says “No” to a prospecting offer, whether they really mean “no” or something else.
If the prospect really means “No”, then we take it to mean no to the specific offer that we made at that specific time. The same individual might say “Yes” to a different offer at a different time. Accepting the “no” immediately and without question is what gives us the opportunity to continue to make different offers later.
If the prospect doesn’t really mean “No”, we take it as a no and move on. People who say what they mean make far better customers, and there are plenty of those to be found, as long as you don’t spend your time with people who just take your time.
If there really is confusion, then the prospecting offer is probably unclear or too vague. Or, it may have other aspects that are inconsistent with High Probability Prospecting.
While prospecting, we have no interest in why someone says “No”. We move on, and therefore almost never hear any “objections”. The “no” is not an objection, and it’s also not a rejection. It’s a simple answer to a simple question, the one we ask at the end of our prospecting offer: “Is that something you want?”
High Probability Selling is not at all about “getting” people to buy. It’s about finding people who want what you are selling, and who are ready and able to buy. That changes everything.
I am delighted to find one of my thoughtful Twitter friends here on the High Probability Selling blog, and I apologize for my very late reply. I welcome further discussion.
Thanks for the sound bite. Just as they say about pictures, a sound is worth a thousand words.