My father worked in retail for years. He is an excellent salesman. He says that one of the secrets to being successful is never saying ‘no’. When a customer asks “do you have this in blue?” the answer is never “no,” rather “we have it in this great shade of red.” I don’t know if I always believe this to be true, but it is an interesting exercise. What happens if you don’t say no?
The basic principle is this: the word ‘no’ shuts doors, so instead you offer up other positive opportunities.
I recently had an opportunity to test this out; a potential client emailed me to ask about my rates. I sent them some standard pricing, and they responded that it was out of their budget. Instead of shutting down the deal, I asked what their budget for photography was. Once I had that information, I told them what they could get for that budget. Instead of a non-negotiable “my rate is X, period” the approach of “for your budget of Y you can get the following things…” helps to educate people of the value of your services, and presents them with options. It also makes you look much more reasonable, and willing to work with the client to come to a resolution. I don’t think anyone wants to be seen as a negative person, and this might help. Instead of “I’m not available on Tuesday,” try “I am available on Monday or Wednesday.” That sort of substitution can make a difference.
Will you take it up the challenge with me this week? Whenever there’s a chance to say “no”, try instead to offer an alternative. Who’s in?