The Opportunities in “No”

Dear Phone Lady: How can I continue to pick up the phone when I keep hearing “No”?

To answer this question I need to go back to the beginning of my days on the phone. I started my first business in 1987.  My business partner and I picked up the phone and made calls everyday from about 8 am to 6 pm EST. Eventually we saw some success, but it was not easy. I carried all the no’s I heard as personal injuries.

Then, in about 1990, we had a business consultant come in to offer advice and make suggestions for our growth. At this point, I was our main salesperson and, much to my surprise, he looked at all my work and commented on how well I was doing.

“What?” I said. I really didn’t understand. He then explained that statistically I was selling 1 out of every 8 people I pitched – and a good sales average was 1 in 10. “You’re quite good at this, ” he said.

Even as I write this, I remember the sensation of weight lifting off my shoulders and the power of this “aha” moment. I had been judging myself based on a belief that everyone I spoke to should become a customer. It was incredibly liberating to know that “no” was simply part of the process. It allowed me to be happy (even exuberant) and graceful through every “no” I received because I knew that for every 7 “no’s” a “yes” would follow.

This taught me that call reluctance can exist when our expectation of the sales process is too high … leaving us feeling defeated easily and often. Once I embraced the fact that I would hear “no” more often than “yes”, my sales ratios got better and better.

And – perhaps the most powerful lesson of all – I began to talk to prospects without expectation. This resulted in detailed conversations filled with market knowledge, industry data, information on my competition and specific requests of when and who to call in the future to make the sale.

While “yes” is obviously wonderful, “no” is often the beginning of a great relationship. Embrace every opportunity for conversations with your prospects and you’ll see your sales improve and call reluctance vanish!


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What's The Phone Lady doing?


  • Remote learning experiences + one-on-one coaching for women entrepreneurs (More info about this three-year program here.)
  • Team and individual coaching with a national moving company to refine their sales process
  • Remote half-day training for provincial tourism representatives
  • Remote seven-part sales training program for US-based SaaS
  • Remote webinar on accounts receivable communication for industrial-services company
  • Remote webinar on validation to college students in entrepreneur program
  • In-person workshop on job search skills for women in the trades
  • Remote half-day webinar on written correspondence to customers

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