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A Recipe for Rejection: The Magic of the 25th 'No'

A Recipe for Rejection: The Magic of the 25th 'No'
June 15, 2018

Do you remember Pennywise the clown? Maybe you braved the 2017 remake of the classic horror film ‘It’ last year. The film, based on Stephen King’s novel by the same name, took over $123 million during its US opening weekend and went on to become the highest-grossing horror film of all time. And yes, this is going to explain my strange headline.


‘It’ has been just one in a long string of successes for author, Stephen King. He’s written and adapted another 58 other stories for the big and small screen. So, it might surprise you to hear that King’s first novel, Carrie, was rejected by 30 publishers before it was eventually picked up by Doubleday, in 1973.


Maybe my headline isn’t so ridiculous, after all?


The First Step to Selling Sun Cream… in Scotland


I have a good friend who is a serial entrepreneur. He’s built several successful businesses and now, at the grand old age of seventy-something, Bill just doesn’t have the inclination to take every single brain-child to market. He’d rather sit in his garden with a cold beer. Can you blame him?


But this story is not about Bill.


Bill’s eldest son suffers from the same, relentless, entrepreneurial drive. When Jerry looks at his Dad’s graveyard of ingenious ideas he’s tormented by this vault of untapped potential.


Last year, Jerry was reminded of one of these long-buried enterprises when he returned home from a summer camping trip around Scotland’s Western Isles. His face and arms had taken on an uncharacteristic shade of Pillar Box Red.


“Dad, whatever happened to that all-natural, waterproof sunscreen you concocted?”


“What’s that, son? Actually, ask me when I’m back from the -”


“Here, hang on a minute! I reckon that stuff would sell like hotcakes - if we could make it quick enough!”


And just like that. Jerry had his attention.


Jerry might have had the entrepreneurial spirit. But a salesman, he was not. So after a long, frank discussion about taking his Dad’s product to market, Bill picked up the phone to me. He asked me to come up and coach Jerry on the basic selling skills he would need to get his ‘magical’ sun cream in the shops.


The plan was to get the sun cream into every independent retailer along Scotland’s popular western coastline. Jerry would be travelling door-to-door, from southerly Cairnryan to the world-famous, Isle of Skye.


Jerry wanted to talk strategy, marketing and distribution. But he was in for a shock.


“How long will it take?” he asked.


And this is what I said to him.


“Don’t come back until you get 25 ‘no’s.”


“Eh? 25 ‘no’s? Is it no’ the ‘yes’s, I’m after?”


Let me explain.


The Value of Earning Your 25 'No's


Sales is a numbers game. It’s true. In fact, 70% of sales are made following the third contact with a customer. If you’re a salesperson, that amounts to a whole lot of rejection. But there are more advantages to being shown the door than you might think.


1. You will find out who your customers are


Think you know your target market? Guesswork is never sufficient when it comes to identifying your customer. It’s important to understand who wants your product before you take it to market. Otherwise, you risk wasting time and money on a marketing strategy that’s simply bypassing the right people. Jerry had plenty of ideas on how to market the product but it wasn’t until he put his boots on the ground and spoke to the people he wanted to sell to, that he realised exactly what his customers looked like.


2. You will begin to understand their objections


When you come in off the street to proposition a small business, you better have a bloody good reason for taking up their time. Small business owners are notorious for wearing numerous hats and as a result, their time is at a premium. This meant that they weren’t shy when it came to telling Jerry exactly what was wrong with his product.


“Who says it works?

It’s too expensive.

Where’s your proof?

It smells like bowling shoes.

Why is the bottle so f-ing ugly?

I’d rather get the stuff from Boots.

Oh, sod-off, will you? ”


Okay, well, maybe the local folk weren’t quite so hostile.


But you get the idea. If you gather real-life objections, you can use them to form the building blocks of your sales strategy and your marketing plan. If you can anticipate the obstacles that will prevent people from buying your product or the questions they’ll have, you can address these in your sales pitch, in your marketing materials, in your product packaging and in your PR efforts. You’ll become a more successful salesperson if you can face objectives confidently when under fire. Forewarned, as they say, is forearmed.


3. You will discover hidden avenues


One shopkeeper told Jerry, “It’s not for me. But why not try the fishing tackle shop, up the road? They’re always looking for airy-fairy products to upsell to their fishing parties.” When you get out and speak to your target market, even if they’re not interested, they’ll often have real insights about the people that will be.


4. You will learn how to cope with rejection


Sales is a numbers game. There’s no getting away from it. And like I’ve said, you can gain valuable insight about your product by having it rejected. But that’s not the only benefit. By the time you’re told ‘No’ 25 times, the chances are you’ve bagged a few ‘yes’s along the way.


I have a friend who sells services in the B2B market. Everytime he embarks on a new launch, he sets out to secure 25 rejections. Why? Because he’s figured out that he needs to approach 25 potential business customers to get one sale, and he’s built a multi-million-pound company based on this premise. What’s the difference between him and your average salesperson? Talent, tactics or the right product? No. The truth is, most salespeople can get past the first rejection, or maybe even the first five or ten, but how many do you think even attempt to hit 25?


Selling skills can be learned and practised, just like all the other skills you need to run a profitable business. The most successful salespeople are the ones who don’t take rejections personally but instead, use them as an opportunity to practice and perfect their selling strategy.


Want to improve your selling skills and increase your revenue? At Sales Coach Scot, our one-to-one sales training sessions and group selling workshops can be tailored to the precise needs of you and your team. Get in touch to book your session and start selling with confidence, today.


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