The Rule of Two No's

Author: Nick Durham

When a salesperson or business development professional starts a new role, their first priority is to come in and build their “top of funnel.”This roughly translates to booking as many meetings as possible with prospective customers. These leads may come from the new hire’s networks or hunting ability, or maybe the business provides the leads. Regardless of source, anyone with real sales chops will come in and build a solid top of funnel.But here, you often run into a problem: your new hire’s optimism regarding who is a potential buyer is irrationally high. This results in them scheduling a lot of meetings with unqualified candidates.As a leader, you are keenly aware of this dynamic. But you’re also optimistic about your new hire and want to let them show their ability. You don’t want to micromanage or discourage their enthusiasm.They’ll likely take 20+ meetings in their first month. You’ll review their pipeline together and will feel optimistic about the number of new deals in your CRM. But there’s a part of you that will be skeptical.Weeks go by and there’s not a lot of movement. You hear the same stories from the salesperson:

  • They have an email out and are waiting to hear back.
  • They tried them on the phone yesterday and got their voicemail - should hear something soon.
  • They had a great meeting two weeks ago and the proposal exists somewhere in the ether.

With each passing day, the doubt creeps in more: Are any of these leads actually going to close?Your salesperson is wondering the same thing.You’ll rationalize what’s happening: maybe the product has a long sales cycle, the new hire is getting their footing, or the timing is bad. All of these are real variables at play, but they’re probably not the core issue.What’s really going on here is that the salesperson needs to shift their priorities. They need a mindset of qualifying and closing. They should become realists about their pipeline and ruthless about where they are spending their time.The best way I’ve found to shift this mindset is to implement “The Rule of Two No’s.”

The Rule of Two No's

The Rule of Two No’s is simple: require your salesperson to bring you two prospects who said "no."Their reaction will likely be one of acknowledgment. “You’re right. I realize I need to push people to close a bit harder.”But it’s not as much about pushing people harder as it is about qualifying them.Based on their budget, buying timeline, the extent of their existing “pain,” each lead is either a buyer or not. At this moment, they know whether they’re a buyer or not, and they have the full ability to tell you so.Your salesperson just hasn’t asked because they are afraid of the no. But once your salesperson learns that no’s are necessary and helpful, the qualifying and close process—aka the real business—can begin.The Rule of Two No’s can relieve your new hire of their biggest fear. They can now work with prospects through a proven process. They can listen and hear their objections. They can read between the lines with people and move on from non-buyers.Sometimes the only way to yes is through no.

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