the ceo magazine, sales,
Shari Levitin, Author, Speaker & CEO, Shari Levitin Group

1. Go for the standing ovation every time.

The ultimate downfall for most business people is their inability to handle rejection. But if you’re going to make it as an entrepreneur, you have to be able to take rejection… lots of it. My mentor told me a long time ago to count the number of “no’s” I get and realize that each “no” simply moves you closer to a “yes.”

“Give each pitch your best shot each time,” he told me. “Never take a shortcut.”

The great Joe DiMaggio was once asked why he gave his all even in statistically meaningless late season games, after the Yankees had been eliminated from the pennant race.

“There’s always a kid who came to the game to see me play for the first time,” he responded. “He deserves to see me give my all.”

You need to approach each negotiation with the same level of professionalism and confidence. Every audience deserves your best performance.

2. Look towards the end of the curve.

My friend Anna is one of the greatest athletes I know. She mountain bikes 7000 vertical feet in an afternoon, leads rock climbs in Yosemite, and runs intervals in the park—for fun. Just six weeks after Anna underwent major surgery, we went mountain biking—but for once she was the one who couldn’t keep up.

That’s when I gave Anna the same advice that she had given me just weeks earlier. “Always look at where you want to go. If you only gaze right in front of you, you’ll lose your balance. There’s nothing you can do about it anyway. Look ahead to where you want to be.” 

3. No Excuses

A few years ago, I had hats and T-shirts made for my employees and customers that said, “No Excuses.” If a deal falls through, it doesn’t matter why. The electric company doesn’t care if you almost got the deal when it’s time to pay the bill.

When it comes to negotiating, hiring or pitching, “No never means no.” Have tenacity. When you hear “no,” go around, through, and on top of it in order to make the sale. Average entrepreneurs say things like “I left a message and he didn’t call back… I sent an email but didn’t get an answer... She must not be interested.”

Start ups not only take tenacity, but also creativity, a sense of humor, and an innate sense of how and when to change the emotional state of the customer/investor to get their attention and earn their business.

These days, people are crazy busy and on information-overload. If their first response is “no,” it may not be that they’re not interested; it’s just that your priority isn’t their priority until you make it so. Surprise, surprise! Getting in touch with them may be of number one importance in your life, but about fiftieth in theirs… until you get through to them and convince them otherwise.

The last thing you want to do is continually pitch someone in the same way with the same message. Try mixing up your approaches. For example:

  • Send them a message on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn in response to something they posted. Let them know you’re listening.
  • Send them a thought-provoking article that you think may benefit them or their business.
  • If you’re conducting business with a colleague or a competitor, make sure they receive a newsletter or a press release touting the benefits of your product or service along with a testimonial.
  • Make friends with their assistant or co-worker and secure an appointment through them.
  • When sending a follow-up email make certain to speak to their business objectives.
  • Send a poem. Yes… a poem!  Let me explain.

I obtained one of my biggest contracts to date by sending a pizza and poem to a busy executive who simply wouldn’t return my calls. His assistant repeatedly told me “He’s in a meeting.” I thought, geez, this poor guy is always in a meeting. He probably never gets out for a walk or ducks out at lunch for a workout. I’m not sure he even eats!

“Has he eaten lunch yet?” I asked his assistant.

“No.”

“What’s the best pizza place around?” I asked.

“Pauli’s, just down the street.”

“Great,” I replied. “I’m going to buy Matt a pizza and have it sent to the office. I’ll order enough for everyone. Oh, and I’m going to fax a poem to you. Do you mind attaching it to the pizza box for me before you bring him the pizza?” She giggled and did as I asked. The poem read:

Is it sunny or is it raining?

The weather’s always good with online training

I know you’re busy playing business and banker

But isn’t it time we set down our anchor?

Think of the increased volume it will yield

The consistent messaging out in the field

So when you’re done with that last pepperoni

Pick up the phone and let’s make some money!

Did I hear back? You guessed it! I got a call in ninety minutes. It ended up in a very large deal.

4. Celebrate The No’s

Have you heard of the Moonshot Factory? It’s a part of Google where the workers are applauded, revered, and even given bonuses for, well, failure. The name of the innovation lab originates from JFK’s dream of putting a person on the moon. The very use of the words “Moonshot” and “Factory” supports the notion that dreams aren’t just visions, they’re visions with a strategy. But the idea behind the Moonshot Factory isn’t simply to push the limits of what’s possible—it’s the building of a culture that intentionally chases after failure.

To paraphrase Astro Teller, who runs the factory, employees spend most of their time trying to break things and determine what’s not working. The company views cancelled projects as the catalyst to innovation. In fact, employees that end projects receive bonus money and vacations!

I realize not every company has the ability to bonus people for plans and programs that don’t work. And, there’s also much debate about whether the Factory will be a success for Google. Their losses are currently in the hundreds of millions!

But the idea behind the Factory is provocative and inspiring. We can remind ourselves that each time we try an approach that doesn’t work, we can move closer to what does work. As Thomas Edison said,  “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

5. Make it a Game 

I made it a game to see how many “No’s” I could get, knowing that each objection simply meant the client needed more information or different information—And then I figured out how to turn the no into a yes, no matter how long it took. Some “No’s” took ten years, maybe fifteen. I just never take it personally. When you’re in business, no never means no. That doesn’t mean you’ll always end up with a deal—but if you’re wise you’ll always end up with a lesson.

[Image courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]


About the Author

An internationally known sales strategist, writer, speaker and entrepreneur, Shari Levitin is CEO of Shari Levitin Group, a global training and consulting firm with clients in over 48 countries, and one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies. Companies including Hilton, Hyatt, Adobe, RCI, Jaguar, Wyndham Worldwide, financial service groups, and countless individuals have all benefited from Levitin’s pioneering Third Level Selling™ techniques. Shari Levitin Group also includes Levitin Learning, a unique virtual university with more than 240 online courses. Her new book, Heart and Sell, is available on Amazon and at ShariLevitinGroup. Learn more at ShariLevitinGroup or connect through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

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