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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

We Lost the Business... Now What?

what happens when a prospect says noEven the best salespeople hear the word “no” from time to time.

You know how it goes; you did everything right. You built up some serious rapport, had that million-dollar idea, and presented a top-notch proposal. In the end, though, it just didn’t happen.

The prospect said “no.” NO! It’s never fun to lose, but how you handle these losses can make or break you.

What Happens When The Prospect Says No? 

The first thing to do is to figure out why it was a "no." It could be something really simple.  

Start by asking what is causing the hesitation. Maybe you can revise and close right away by doing something as simple as changing the dates or dropping a complex piece of the solution and delivering the rest of the plan.

eliminate objections in your proposals

If it’s not a simple issue to work through immediately, you shouldn’t walk away without a fight! Before walking away from this opportunity, you want to determine how you can turn a “no” into a “yes.” To do this, you need to determine where the problem lies.  

The problem could be within your proposal, how you presented it, or how you handled objections during the presentation. However, in many cases, the problem is somewhere earlier in the sales process. 

Five Most Common Problems with Presenting Your Proposal

1. Did you really ask for the business?

2, Did you use mini-closes along the way to ensure you are focused on the right desired business result, that the prospect is in agreement with the measures of success, that they have a high degree of confidence in the solution, and that they're ready to proceed?

3. Did you fail to identify and include all decision-influencers as part of the decision-making process?

4. Did you miss important objections because you were not inviting that type of interaction before and during the presentation?

5. Did you fail to adequately overcome the objections raised?

How to Craft a Proposal that Won’t Get Rejected

When Is It Time To Move On?

If you have kept in contact with the prospect and still don’t have an answer in 30 days, it’s probably dead. Accept that.  

You may not need to walk away from the prospect, but it’s probably wise to walk away from this “opportunity” and try to re-engage the prospect with a new opportunity.  

If you are going to re-engage, start over with a thorough needs analysis. Be aware of anything that may have changed: the timing, their desired business results, their sense of urgency, or something unique to the next opportunity.

Don't let a "no" from a prospect get you off track. Use it as a learning lesson to steer your sales process and improve your sales strategy with each opportunity you have.

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*Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in 2019 and has since been updated.


Topics: sales strategy sales process prospecting