Win Without Pitching®: Thinking

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When we master no we will master selling our expertise. The two sides of no are hearing it and saying it. We must get better at both.

On Hearing No

No is the second best answer we can hear. It is far preferable to maybe or we’ll get back to you or to silence.

No is not the end, it is merely the beginning of what happens next. We can do something with no. We can carry on the conversation or we can move on, for now, or for good, and direct our attention to a more fruitful conversation.

Our own willingness to hear no is tied to our investment in the sale. If hearing no is painful it is because we are over invested or have waited too long to be ready to hear it.

An early no is always preferable to a late no. As soon as we uncover an opportunity, our job, as counterintuitive as it may seem, is to try to kill it. If there is a reason why an engagement might not make sense we want to find it early, before either party over-invests.

Inviting no improves the likelihood of having an actual conversation. One of the most powerful prefaces we can employ when making a request is “Feel free to say no…” Experts create the conditions where the client can easily say no if this is indeed the answer, thus allowing both parties to remain ruthlessly efficient.

On Saying No

An unfortunate but indisputable trait of humans is how profoundly we are repulsed by neediness. We push others away and lose their respect by always saying yes, by reeking of yes.

If we do not say no our yes is meaningless, our credibility diminished.

We measure maturity in children by their ability to delay gratification, to say no, for now. What does it say about our own maturity when we struggle with saying no?

Saying no begins with a proper crafting of our claim of expertise, one that allows clients, in a brief moment, to opt in or out – to make a quick judgement on how relevant our expertise is to their needs. When our claim is devoid of no – when it appears to be made for everyone, our credibility is diminished.

If we cannot say no then none of the other Win Without Pitching principles matter. We will not create the conditions for success in our business or our life until we cut out that which we must no longer do, those with whom we must no longer do business.

With the blank slate of a new year ahead of us, we see limitless possibilities. We will harness few of these opportunities however until we first prune to make room for new growth. The question for the new year ahead is not what will we do but what will we no longer do?

Blair Enns
Blair Enns is the Win Without Pitching founder and CEO and the author of The Win Without Pitching Manifesto and Pricing Creativity: A guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour.
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