08/31/2015 12:18 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Beauty of 'No'


No. It is one of the most emotionally charged words in the human language; a word that can evoke a myriad of emotions from anger, to fear, to paralysis, to sadness, to heartbreak, to loss. One's ability to get comfortable and move through "no" is one of the biggest predictors of success. Let me tell you why "no" is one of my favorite words in business and how it should be one of yours too.

No ambiguity
When you have done your job, shared the value of what you offer, overcome all questions and objections, yet, the person on the end of the phone or conference table says no, rejoice! There is no confusion here, you know exactly where you stand. We all want a YES to be the words uttered at the end of a long sales conversation, negotiation, or presentation, but the truth is not everyone will see the value and say yes to what you offer. The very worst thing you can ever get in business is a maybe so grab that no in a big grateful hug and let's move on to the second reason I love no.

No wasted energy
When you get a maybe it gives you a reinvigorated energy of "hope" that leads to one of the biggest downfalls I see in business -- the chase. When you are holding on to the hope that the maybe will turn into a yes, suddenly you suffer from counting your chickens before they hatch, planning the future and how you might spend that nice bonus check, and worst of all inventing reasons to call them up and convince them into that yes - sign, sealed and delivered. Stop it! A wise mentor once told me, "It is easier to give birth than to resuscitate the dead," so stop trying to resurrect the dead deal moments later, get some new people on board and move on for now. When someone gives you a no, my favorite word to follow up after "thank you" is, NEXT!

No (for now)
Fortune is in the follow up. I want to share some shocking statistics with you about follow up, but first I want to explain how following up and chasing are different. Following up is adding value and dripping on them. Perhaps you met someone that would be a good contact for them so you do an introduction, maybe you saw an interesting article and it reminded you of a conversation you had and you thought they might enjoy it, maybe you follow up to see how their family vacation was -- regardless of how you follow up, you should always be adding value to them and nurturing that relationship. Chasing on the other hand is all about you, all about desperation, and all about getting. When you chase you want them to accomplish something for you (a bonus, recognition, etc), you are chasing them because, to be blunt, your pipeline isn't full enough that you can focus on someone else and nurture other relationships. If you find yourself chasing, take a hard look in the mirror, read the book It's Not About You: A Little Story About What Matters Most in Business, and for goodness sakes get more people in your pipeline to help! I believe you should ask for the yes down the road again, but always add value when you do so they remember you as someone who gives, not takes. Now that I have clarified, here are some eye-opening stats about follow up:

48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
12% of sales people make more than three contacts
2% of sales are made on the first contact
3% of sales are made on the second contact
5% of sales are made on the third contact
10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

Can you do me a favor and read that last statistic one more time for me? 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact. What this tells me, and why it is important for you, is, you should take your no, pocket it, but don't forget it. Take it as face value and move on to the next person you can help, but don't lose contact. Take it from me, if you don't follow up, your competition will, and when they do chances are it will be around that magical 5th time, and that is the time they will yes to them instead of you.

Bottom line
Remember the age-old adage: Every no gets you closer to a yes. Learn to love the no -- embrace it, appreciate it, and move through it. Only if you allow no to paralyze and set you back will it, otherwise no is the exact word you need to propel you forward to resilience, power, and success. Use it as a launch pad, a motivator, and a benchmark - see it as a rudder to navigate your ship to the goals you desire. Now go out there and get those noes!