How Many “No’s” Can You Take?

That’s my question to you: “How many no’s can you take?” That’s a difficult question to answer. It reminds me of the Tootsie Pop commercial from 1969: “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?” It’s a cute commercial and it highlights how difficult it is to be patient.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, a business owner, starting your own business, or are an employee, all of those roles have some element of sales or negotiation involved, and the word “no” comes up frequently.

In the book, The Answer, by businessmen-authors John Assaraf and Murray Smith, they shared “By the time you’re seventeen years old, you’ve heard ‘No, you can’t’ an average of 150,000 times. You’ve heard ‘Yes, you can’ about 5,000 times. That’s thirty no’s for every yes.” That’s a lot of no’s.

When we are children and adolescents, the no’s serve an important role in keeping us safe. But, once we are adults and in the midst of our careers, all of those no’s throughout our formative years, have often conditioned us to assume that the “no” is final.

“No” does not necessarily mean “never”. It could mean “not yet” or “I am unsure”. “No” often means more information may be needed. When you get a “no”, it is important to ask questions, to gain clarity. “No” is not necessarily “the end”. It is important to not make up stories in your head. Don’t assume it’s “never”. They may have closed the door, but don’t you be the one who makes the mistake of locking it.

Now, here is another scenario. What about the times when you are in a situation where your client/boss/customer is all-in. They are receptive to what you are offering/suggesting. You make your pitch, and their answer is “YES”. Fantastic, right! Yes, but…what if, they would have said yes to more, if only you had offered it?

How do you know they are done? NoYou may be done with your planned offer, suggestion, or request, but what if whoever you are making your pitch to is open to hearing more. How do you know when they are done? They only way to know that is when you hear “no”. This is one of the many reasons you need to keep going, keep asking for more, keep exploring the needs of your customer.

How well you are able to handle getting told “no” will have a significant impact on your success. If you want to avoid being told “no” you will be limiting your potential. Resiliency is a key to business success.

It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up!

Retail Level Up provides coaching, training, and consulting services to individuals and teams. Visit to learn more and to schedule a free consultation.

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