How NOT To Respond to ‘No’

There are six common mistakes salespeople make when they hear “no” from a prospect. They might take it personally, not understand the reasons for the rejection, and give up too easily or burn a bridge with the prospect. By avoiding these mistakes, you can change your mindset, respond positively to rejection, and even turn it into an opportunity.

Salespeople Need To Start Handling ‘No’ Better

Why is it so hard to get a no? In part, because most people are good and nice and they don’t want to disappoint a salesperson. Or, worse, have them get frustrated. Or even worse, have the salesperson bully them into changing their minds. So, it’s easier to do nothing and not reply. 

The fact is that the better the entire sales community starts handling no—the better and easier all of lives will become. 

6 Mistakes Salespeople Make When Faced With Rejection

How do we start? We start by ensuring that we avoid the big mistakes. 

Here are the 6 biggest mistakes that must be avoided at all costs when it comes to responding to “No”.


The first big no-no to a no is arguing. No one likes conflict, let alone with a salesperson when time and money are on the line.

If you start arguing, attacking, or pressuring, which sounds like, “I can’t believe you aren’t going forward, only an idiot would say no to this deal!” you might eventually make a sale because the customer will simply give in.

But it’s the classic example of a “bad yes” and often won’t turn out well in the end. This type of pressure will never get you a long-term sales career. 


The next big mistake is pouting. Pouting sounds like: “Wow, so much for my bonus this month. My boss isn’t going to be happy about this, either.”

The salesperson wants pity. Maybe the customer will feel sorry for them and change their mind. Again, a short-term solution. 


The third mistake is begging. Begging sounds like: “Wait, are you sure? You seemed like you were saying ‘yes.’ I was counting on this happening today.”

Or maybe, “If you buy this, I’ll finally get to go on the top-earner trip to Cancun!”

Begging is a little softer than arguing or pressure. It comes from a different place—a place of desperation and fear

No one likes to buy from a desperate salesperson. They buy for their reasons, not yours.

So, begging for the sale so that you make quota or earn a gold star will not sway many people. Even if you do convince them, you’ll end up with another “bad yes.” 


This is NOT negotiating. There is always room to negotiate as long as there are concessions for each side to make so it’s a win for all.

Bartering is just a short-term solution to close the deal today.

It sounds like: “Sign this deal today and on next month’s invoice, I’ll give you a better price.”

You can’t train your customers to buy on price. Where does it end? It’s a race to the bottom. And that means no profit. Plus, it ends up looking like begging, too. 


You can be angry, but avoid lashing out. Whatever you do, don’t say: “Fine. I’ll go to your biggest competitor and see what they think of this proposal. You’ll wish you hadn’t turned us down.”  

As we mention in our book, When They Say No, we have all seen deals fall apart when it comes time for the delivery or execution of the service.

When you handle a “No” well, respect the decision rather than burning a bridge; you never know how that might turn into a “Yes” in the future.

Sales expert Johnathan Farrington made the point that if you get turned down on a bid, for example, you should immediately reach out to the prospect. 

He explained it this way:

“Break down that invisible psychological barrier that may have been erected since you received the news. They are probably feeling guilty because they know how much cost and effort we invested. Make one simple phone call, expressing your thanks for being given the opportunity to bid in the first place, confirming that you would welcome the opportunity to work together again and that you are ready to step in, should anything go wrong.”

Accepting Bad Yeses

The problem is that doing any of these things usually just winds up getting you a “bad yes.” It’s not what the customer really wanted to do and in the end, many bad yeses will haunt you later on.

Bad yeses don’t end up in referrals. They can end up being returned or canceled at the last minute. They don’t usually garner 5-star reviews on social media.

As a professional salesperson, you must maintain your composure when you hear ‘No’.

Instead of reacting in a way that others fear, respond in a way that they don’t expect—positive and upbeat. Make them comfortable.

Congratulate your prospect for coming to a decision and wish them well. And eventually, you may get a yes!

Key Takeaways:

  • When hearing “no,” salespeople should stay calm and composed, reframe the rejection as a neutral or positive outcome, and seek to understand the prospect’s concerns and needs.
  • Salespeople can also use the rejection to improve their approach if there is an opportunity to revisit the relationship with that prospect in the future.
  • By persevering through rejection, salespeople can improve their skills, create room for understanding, learn more about the prospect’s unique needs and challenges, and ultimately achieve greater success in the long term.

In Andrea’s new book, Why They Say No, you’ll learn key strategies for handling rejection to get better results in every area of business and life. Get your copy at WhenTheySayNoBook.com.

About the author

Andrea Waltz

Andrea Waltz is the co-author of the best-selling book Go for No! and a…

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