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The best selling I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t say “no” (even though I tried to)

Tags: Do more | Sales | Influencing

7th April

I was recently on the receiving end of the most compelling sales pitch I’ve ever seen. I just couldn’t work out how to say “no”.

Here’s what happened - and what we can all learn from it…

I was in the kitchen with my two-year-old Tom. Our conversation went like this:

Tom: Daddy, can we play football outside?

Me: We can later, Tom. It’s raining now. Shall I read you a book instead?

Tom: No Daddy. Let’s play football outside.

Me: We can’t Tom. I’d like to. But it’s raining. What else would you like to do? A story? Play with your trains? Something else?

Tom: Shall I get my shoes Daddy?

Me: Why?

Tom: So we can play football outside.

Me: I’ve already told you, Tom – it’s raining. Come on, let’s find something else to do

Tom: (Leaving room). See you later Daddy.

Me: OK. Where are you going?

Tom: To get my shoes.

Me: Tom, come back in here…TOM!

Tom: (returning) I’ve brought my shoes Daddy. Can you put them on please?

Me: (if I’m being honest, now becoming a touch frustrated) No Tom. It’s raining. Look, here’s your favourite book…

Tom: I’m just putting my shoes on.

Me: (thinking I’ve ‘won’, because he doesn’t know how to put his shoes on) Ok then, Tom. You put your shoes on

Tom: (Two minutes later) I’ve put them on Daddy. Let’s go outside.

Me: (Getting more flustered now). Wow. You’re a good boy for putting on your shoes. But it’s still raining.

Maia, my six year old who’s been listening to our conversation: Actually Dad, it’s stopped raining.

[Stunned silence]

Me: Er… OK then… Let’s go outside.

Tom: (very excited now) Yaay. And can we play football for lots and lots, Daddy?

Me: Don’t push it son...

And, before you ask… yes – we did play for ‘lots and lots’.

I did my best to say “no”. But it wasn’t happening.

And there’s a lot we can learn from this:

  • If someone says “No” to you, it doesn’t mean “No forever. Go away”. So try a different tack
  • This different tack might involve you doing something you haven’t ever done before, like putting on your shoes for the first time
  • It always helps to have a good relationship with the other person – he is my son, after all. But a good relationship won’t always be enough on its own – you’ll have to be persuasive too. But if they don’t know/like you, it’s a lot harder
  • Circumstances change – like, it stopping raining – making the reason for the original “no” no longer valid. So, you can often revisit things which got a “no” last time
  • Sometimes you need a third party – in our case, Maia – to point out that things have changed. So ask someone else for their ideas
  • When you’re so focussed on the value of something – like Tom was – the objections/concerns become almost irrelevant. You/he sees them as minor inconveniences to overcome; not an Impenetrable Forcefield Of Doom that requires 100% of everyone’s focus

Action point

Today, somebody will say “no” to you. So, what are you going to do, to turn it into a “yes”?