Getting to NO — understanding and improving closing ratios

Many people who begin a career in sales get to the point where they dread hearing the word NO.  In fact, many new salespeople get so discouraged from being told NO that they quit trying and ultimately fail.  If you hear a hundred NO’s without hearing a YES, you may be tempted to give up.  The metric used to measure success in sales is the “closing ratio”.  In the most basic form, a closing ratio is how many people you have to talk to in order to make one sale. But in actuality, a closing ratio is better measured as how many prospective customers ultimately tell you YES in comparison to how many ultimately tell you NO.
The key to success in sales is what you do after you hear the word NO. Even the best salesperson hears NO a great deal of the time. But the fact is that 90% of YES’s come after a prospective customer has said NO.   Those people who become successful in sales realize that NO is just one step on the way to YES. 
In his book 12 Cliches of Selling and Why They Work, Barry Farber says, “The cliche is that extroverted people people go into sales but the fact is that introverts make just as successful salespeople as extroverts, perhaps because introverts are such good listeners.” What successful people learn is how to listen to what their prospective customers are really saying because No doesn’t always mean NEVER.
NO may mean “You haven’t given me enough information to say YES”.  For a new salesperson (or an experienced salesperson learning a new product like I was when we started our Virtual Tour Company), there are going to be many more NO’s than YES’s at first.  While it’s important to be educated before making a sales presentation, there are some things you can only learn with experience.  For any product or service that is sold, there are a finite set of objections. In the beginning, these objections represent locked doors but once you have learned how to overcome an objection, you have the key to open that door the next time you hear the objection. The goal is to collect a wheelbarrow full of keys so that you are ready for any objection you may hear.
NO may mean “Not Now”.  When someone tells me No Thank You, I ask if they mind if I send them some information in case their situation changes in the future.  If they say yes, then I add them to my Contact Management System and set up a drip campaign to stay in front of them.  This may be a postcard every 90 days or it may be a phone call every week.  I am currently talking to the owners of a cabin rental management company who assures me they are interested in cabin virtual tours.  They are incredibly busy so each time I have called, the owner has asked me to call him back.  I have called him a dozen times but each time he assures me that he really wants to talk to me but is just busy.  At some point, I will go from calling him weekly to bi-weekly to monthly to every 90 days but unless he says, please don’t call me anymore, he will remain on my drip list.  
NO may mean “NO”.  There is no such thing as a 100% closing ratio…even the best salespeople get told NO a predictable amount of time.  In fact, seasoned salespeople can tell you how many No’s they expect for every sale they make.  If NO really means “NO”, then the key is to find this out as soon as possible so that you can get on to the YES.  If it takes 100 No’s to get to Yes, then each No is just one step closer to your sale.
Vision Quest Virtual Tours is a North Georgia virtual tour provider specializing in virtual tours for healthcare, cabin virtual tours, healthcare virtual tours, bed and breakfast virtual tours, school virtual tours and other businesses where people want to see the big picture.  For more information, visit www.VisionQuestVirtualTours.com or call us at 404-863-9769.