How to Close a Deal With a Prospect Who Already Said No

9 min read
Aug 1, 2022

A prospect saying no does NOT indicate that the deal is dead.

Instead, the prospect saying no indicates that you are on the right track and only need to push a liiiiiittle more to get a yes.

Moreover, just because a prospect says no or not interested does not mean you cannot close!

The only way to surely lose a prospect is by throwing in the towel.

To prove it, I am sharing how to close deals with prospects who say no or not interested after the sales pitch.

From now on, stop seeing no as rejection and start seeing it as a sign that you only need to push a tad more.

In many cases, taking one more shot after the prospect says no is all it takes to get a signature on the dotted line.


The Real Reasons Why Prospects Say No


There are only a handful of reasons prospects say no or not interested.

Unfortunately, most salespeople do not understand why prospects say no to them.

Or, at least, they make incorrect assumptions.

That said, here is the difference between why you think prospects reject you versus the truth about why they do it.


Why You Think Prospects Say no to You

When a prospect says no, I guarantee you assume it is because of one of these five reasons:

  • They cannot afford your deliverable
  • They are going with your competitor
  • They already have somebody doing what you do
  • They do not think they need you
  • They want results sooner than when you can deliver

However, prospects almost never say no because of one of these reasons.

Each of these reasons assume there is something wrong with the prospect.

For example, not being able to afford your deliverable means they do not have enough cash.

Or, going with your competitor means they are not smart enough to see you are the best.

The truth is prospects almost never say no because there is something wrong with them.  Rather, they say no because you made a mistake!

Instead of thinking, Maybe I did something to make them say no, salespeople think, They already have somebody in my place or They just don’t have the money.

However, 99% of times when prospects say no is because the sales rep made a fatal error.


The Reasons Why Prospects Say No or Not Interested

In reality, salespeople hear no from prospects because they themselves make mistakes!

In fact, there are only about eight reasons why prospects say no.  

Each has to do with the salespeople's own mistakes. 

The eight reasons why qualified prospects say no to you include:

  1. Your solution is too complex
  2. You are making the sales process all about you
  3. You look exactly like your competitors
  4. You are allowing prospects window shop your deliverable
  5. You are assuming prospects know what they need
  6. You do not understand their vision
  7. Your sales process is out of control
  8. You carry yourself more like a vendor and less like an expert

When prospects say no, 99% of the time it is because you made a mistake.

The good news is that, because you are the one making the mistakes, you have the power to change the situation for the better.


For Starters, You Can Prevent Being Told No in the First Place


Prevention is better than correction.  Why not prevent a mistake rather than correct for it in the future?

While I am sharing how to win customers back after they say no, I highly recommend doing everything you can to prevent getting a no in the first place.

Will some prospects slip through the cracks even when you do your best to prevent it?

Yes, but you still should avoid getting to that position in the first place.

While there are many things you can do to prevent getting a no, I suggest starting with these three strategies:

  1. Targeting the right prospects
  2. Cold calling like a boss
  3. Making sales pitches as if you and the customer's success depend on it

Focusing on these three key strategies help prevent no’s and not interested’s (not to mention make for an overall better sales process!).


Target the Right Prospects

First, stop targeting shoddy prospects who do not fit your ideal customer profile.

Can you sell a bicycle to a fish?  

Yes, but should you?

Why sell a bicycle to a fish when there are better targets out there who fit your ideal customer profiles and are therefore likely to:

  1. Put up fewer objections
  2. Make a purchasing decision without negotiating
  3. Make a purchase in less time
  4. Repurchase many times over

That said, do not put yourself in a position to be told no by targeting the coldest of the cold prospects.

I suggest constructing an ideal prospect profile and buyer persona, and then most importantly, sticking to them.


Cold Call Like a Boss

Nobody likes to admit that first impressions can make or break a situation.

In sales, cold calling (not cold emailing!) is your best opportunity to make an ideal first impression on target customers.

Cold calls give you an opportunity to:

  1. Drop a compelling hook
  2. Make yourself unignorable

First, cold calls give you the perfect opportunity to drop your hook.

A hook is a compelling, one-line sentence that intrigues the prospect and makes them want to continue the conversation.

Making a cold call without a hook is no different than throwing a string into the water expecting to catch a fish.

Second, it is harder for people to say no when they have to do it in real-time.

Unlike cold emails, cold calls get you in front of prospects in real-time.  

No, you are not physically in front of them, but hearing your voice makes it harder for them to say no.

Ultimately, making a killer first impression over a short and sweet 60-second cold call can make all the difference in getting a yes versus a no.


Pitch as if Your Life Depends on It

Sales pitches are your single-best opportunity to make prospects utterly dependent on you.

Did I say dependent?

Yes- Salespeople who pitch like the 1% do not just close the deal!  Additionally, they become irreplaceable and irresistible advisors to their prospects.

The key to sales pitch success is showing prospects that you are the single-best option to get them to their desired outcome.

Is the potential customer's desired outcome solving world hunger or creating the next great software company?

Great, use sales pitches to show them your product or service will get them to that outcome more efficiently than anything else will.

How can somebody say no to you if you hold the keys to their desired outcome?


Here Is What to Do When a Prospect Says No


Prospect says no or not interested after making your sales pitch?  

No worries.

Stop and take a breath before you panic!

Then, take another deep breath and follow this simple process.

Remember, being told no or not interested does NOT mean the prospect is out in left field.

Instead, being told no is usually a sign that the prospect needs only a tiiiiiny push before giving you a yes.

All you need to do is give that little push to get them back in the game.

Here is how to do it:


Get on the Phone Immediately

If a prospect tells you they are not interested over email before the final sales pitch, then get on the phone immediately!

No, do not respond with an email!  I said pick up the phone and call them right away.

It could take hours or even days for the prospect to respond to your email (that is, if they respond at all).

The longer it takes to talk to the prospect about their objection, the less likely you will get them back on the sales track.

That said, get on the phone with prospects immediately if they say no over email.


Ask the Right Questions to Uncover the Prospect’s True Intentions.

Prospect tells you no over the phone or after a sales pitch?

No problem.

Immediately begin asking questions!

Specifically, ask questions to uncover the real reason they are saying no, keeping in mind the eight reasons outlined above.

The first question I suggest asking is a mirror question: A mirror question is simply a reflection of what the prospect says in question form.

For example, if the prospect says We are not really interested right now, you mirror back with You are not interested right now?.

Prospects will clarify or go deeper into why they are saying no in response to your mirror.

That said, mirror questions are powerful because they help you get to the root of why prospects say no.

I suggest alternating between mirror and clarification questions until you understand why prospects are really saying no.  

Think of yourself as an investigative journalist trying to uncover the prospect’s real intentions.

Asking questions should take up 90% of your time when trying to reverse a no to a yes.


Re-Frame the Pitch to Cover Your Mistake

After questioning the prospect, reconfigure your pitch according to the real reason why they are saying no.

By that, I mean backtracking your pitch to cover the mistake you made.  Remember, prospects usually only say no because of a mistake you made that dissuaded them from saying yes.

For example, imagine the questioning process revealed you do not understand the prospect’s business vision (one of the eight mistakes outlined above).

Take time to dive deep into their vision until you understand it.  

Then, re-frame your pitch showing prospects you do understand their vision.  Specifically, show them you understand their vision so much that you believe they cannot manifest it without your deliverable.

After re-framing your pitch, drop a concise offer to show them you know exactly what you are talking about.

As I mentioned above, you must pitch as if your life depends on it!

Prospects will never give you an on-spot yes unless they think you are irreplaceable.

Are you ready to pitch as if your life depends on it?


DO NOT Stop Until You Get a Yes

In some cases, prospects will still say no after you re-frame the pitch.

Do not panic! It is not over yet.

If the prospect hangs up the phone or exits the meeting, make follow-up calls until you get them back in another session.

Then, repeat the question and re-framing the process until you get a yes.

Remember, a prospect saying no DOES NOT mean they do not want or need you.

Instead, it signals they need a little more nurturing before moving forward.

Keep on giving them the nurturing they need until you get the yes you want!


But Brian! I Do Not Want Prospects to Think I Am Desperate!


Here is where most salespeople get tripped up: They think pursuing prospects after they already said no is a sign of desperation.

They do not want prospects to think they are desperate or overbearing, so they back off entirely.

Sound familiar?

Choosing not to take action because you fear what other people think is acting out of emotion.

Name one time that acting out of emotion did you well!

Worrying about looking desperate is nonsense, and it should not stop you from pressing forward to yes.


First of All, Prospects Do Not Care About You

First and most importantly, prospects do not care about you.

They do not sit around the dinner table with family at night talking about how some salesperson keeps calling them to close a deal.

Instead, they sit around the dinner table talking about their own problems!

Therefore, you need not worry about what prospects think about you because they are not thinking about you in the first place.


It Is Your Duty to Help People

Second, your duty as an entrepreneur or sales professional is to help prospects solve a particular problem.

If somebody says no to you one time, does that mean you stop trying to help them entirely?

When somebody is injured and needs help but refuses, do you throw your hands in the air and walk away?

Or do you stick around trying to help the person until they realize they obviously need help?

Bottom line: Do not be apologetic about being persistent in your pursuit of trying to help people.


If the Prospect Does Not Hire You, They Will Hire Somebody Else

Here is the thing: If the prospect does not hire you to solve their problem, they will hire somebody else to solve it.

Even if they do not hire somebody else immediately, they will do it eventually.

Why should you not be the person they hire?

Again, they are going to find somebody to do the job anyway!  

What is stopping you from being that person?


Why Do You Care What Others Think?

Finally, why do you care so much about what other people think of you?

Why do you lay your head on the pillow at night and think about what others think?

The truth is you will never not care about what people think of you.  

Anybody who says they do not care about what other people think is lying.

Caring about what other people think is a product of human nature, and human nature is unavoidable.

However, you can choose not to let what other people think about you determine your actions.

Moreover, you can take action and move forward despite what people think about you!

That said, a better question is: Why do you let what other people think about you determine your actions?


Final Thoughts on How to Close Deals With Prospects Who Say No


Remember, a prospect saying no does not mean the game is over!

Instead, it indicates that the prospect only needs a little more nurturing before saying yes.

All you need to do is get on the phone, ask the right questions, correct the pitch, and follow up until you get to yes!

Never apologize for pursuing prospects after they say no; what is your job as a sales pro or business owner if not to guide them to the right decision?

Therefore, give prospects the help they need while getting the yes you want!

Every no from the right prospect can turn into a yes.

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