How do you feel when the girl you are hitting on says “no”? How about that email you received last month from your prospective employer saying, “Thank you for interviewing with us but we regret to inform you that you have not been selected…” How did it make you feel? Most people hate hearing “no”. You and I know people who have settled for a life of mediocrity because “no” means “I have rejected you” to them.
Sometime last week I received a call from one of my loyal clients. I had put in a proposal to consult on a Service Design Project for them;
Client: “Good morning Sudesh”
Me: “Good morning…”
Client: “Sorry I didn’t call you yesterday…but we chose to go with the other Consulting firm”
Me: “Thanks for letting me know”
Did I feel bad? Yes of course! I have had amazing reviews from this client in the past and there are tangible results to prove I have done an amazing job for them. Here is the part that I didn’t tell you, the bad feeling lasted about five minutes but years back my day would be ruined by calls like that.
You see, saying “no” to me is just the beginning, not the end. “NO” is most often a statement of perception far more than of fact. It seldom means, “I have considered all the facts and made a rational choice”. Instead “no” is often a decision, frequently temporarily, to maintain the status quo. Change is scary and “no” provides a little protection from the scariness.
Let me put this into perspective, my client made a rational choice of testing the “other waters” because in their mind, “they could be missing out on something”. I am sure they haven’t worked with consultants for lengthy periods so having supplier loyalty is challenging their status quo regardless of the results.
As much as “no” is painful, I always welcome it from my team, prospects and clients. If people are afraid to say “no” to you, you’ll be stuck in your old ways of doing things. Moving forward, I am going to refine my Value proposition (read innovate) for this client and win them back. What makes me confident? I have done this countless times from my tenure as the Marketing and Sales Manager of Leather Industries Uganda and thought-out my Entrepreneurship career.
I don’t have time to go into details of how it works but for starters when someone says “no” they mean;
- “I don’t think I can afford it”
- “I need more information”
- “I want to talk it over with someone else”
- “I don’t understand”
- “You are making me feel uncomfortable”
- “I want something else” (which applies to me hence me innovating the value proposition)
- “I am not yet ready to agree”
Encourage your people to say “no” because therein are insights for innovation.