When No is Better Than Yes

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After brain-draining meetings, heart-pumping negotiations and energy-zapping contracts, nothing beats the euphoria of finally closing a business deal. As sales and marketing companies search for leads, submit proposals to clients and present to potential partners, the sweetest answer anticipated is a resounding YES. We feed off that promise of exhilaration. That is why we are persistent and relentless. Quitting is never an option. Or should it?


One of the principles I learned as I grew in my career in B2B sales lead generation is to know when to walk away. In a cut-throat competitive world, that is just so difficult to do. How can I let it go when I already have not just a foot but half my body through the door? The final decision feels like just a few moments away. I also know that when I say no to this, somebody else will say yes. How can I stop pursing an endeavour I have invested so much in? One thing I realized, no matter how bad sales and marketing companies want to bag the prize, there comes a point that it should stand its ground and say NO. Here are four qualifiers that indicate it is indeed time for a 180° turn.


When it is unethical. You say, “That’s a no brainer!” or “You should have known that right from the start.” However, the questionable grey area does not usually arise until such time that a client is comfortable with you. After a successful B2B sales lead generation, you may already have a solid ground to establish a relationship with the company. At that point, saying no seems to be out of the question. How many executives have lost their dignity after getting caught red-handed? Ethics is a rare find these days. No amount of revenue should be worth your company’s credibility and reputation. If your integrity is at stake, run the other direction.


Long term loss outweighs the momentary gain. Again, this seems like common sense. But unless you intentionally think far beyond the potential success, this is not too obvious at all. Many times, we get overwhelmed by the win that we neglect to do the pencil-pushing. Basic accounting tells us that net profit is revenue minus costs. And even if at the moment, you think you are fine, consider accrued costs. Huge deals usually mean price war. Therefore, margins are most likely low, maintenance is high and frequent follow-up is required. Long term losses also do not always hit our cash flow. It can greatly hurt our intangibles too. No matter how strong the initial potential you think you have captured based on scientific and strategic B2B sales lead generation, it may not be worth it.


When the other party is stonewalling. Have you ever come across someone who is in the position to decide but just strings you along to the next meeting? Does your potential client deflect crucial questions he needs to answer right away? Have you ever met a partner so difficult that he keeps on revising terms, pricing or schedule? Do you feel like you are under such scrutiny that the minutest mistake can scratch the whole thing off? If you answered yes to these questions, then you might be in trouble. Go back to your drawing board and strategize how to go beyond the wall your client is putting up. If you cannot resolve these things, there is no point moving forward.


When you are at risk of losing other opportunities for the sake of closing one. The Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, stresses the importance of choosing your battles. It is possible that the task to which you pour out 80% of your time and effort will only yield you 20% of your total target. In the same way, there are clients and deals that you can focus on which can give you 80% of your total goal while only using up 20% of your resources. While chasing an elusive opportunity, others might pass you by without you noticing. Learn the science of elimination. Time is a limited commodity and you can only do so much. So select, delegate and automate.


Walking away doesn’t always mean failure. A no is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, it can even be considered a potent growth strategy for sales and marketing companies. It can save business relationships. It can even boost your worth. So next time you are driven to your wits end, consider this criteria. Maybe it is time for the next adventure.