"No Answers" Guarantee Success | Jennifer Magley

“I don’t want you to tell me no,” I said on stage with 1,200 sets of eyeballs locked on my every move. “I want you to tell me no and why.” Cue the dramatic pause.

As the closing keynote of one of the largest women’s conferences in the midwest, my journey to this moment is almost unfathomable. 

Just six years earlier in a small obscure room in Naples, FL I had learned what no truly meant (more on that later.) Only four years and six months had passed since standing barefoot and pregnant with my second child in an empty apartment. This apartment was far from the bright lights of a stage and in a new city where the amount of money I made matched the number of people I knew: zero. Most poignantly it had been three full years of: being a single mom with no sustainable income as an entrepreneur, serving on two non profit boards, raising nearly $250,000 for charity, downsizing to an apartment, going on dates, and spending more time with volunteers than a parole officer. You better work.

Back to Naples, FL.


Learning the true meaning of no came at the manicured hands of some of direct sales finest skincare and cosmetics superstars. Inside an outdoor shopping mall, this tiny room sat patientily with posters of our patron saint Mary Kay Ashlooking down upon our weekly trainings. I learned nearly everything I know today on the art of the soft sell from those meetings and treasured insights. It was during my five years of being a Beauty Consultant, an adventure in self discovery, that I mastered what it means to be “likable” and how to overcome “no.”

From someone with no friends who had only worn makeup on her wedding day (which was applied by someone else) to selling nearly $3,000 in cosmetics in 45 minutes, it is fair to say I learned a thing or two.

Considering you may not have five years to spare for first hand experience, I generously present to you some of my top tips for no answers:

I. Overcoming Objections

When told "no" do not accept it. That’s right. Ask more questions. These questions will reveal the real reason behind the refusal. For example:

If price was no object what would you go home with tonight?


Well, -insert name- you know your budget better than I do, what would you like to take home this evening?

Oh, I understand what you are saying…what if you could have all of the products you just mentioned at no cost?

Yes, by hosting a group of girlfriends these products are yours.

BAM. Cost objection overcome and a party with new customers is put on the books. Everyone is happy and you just gained 8-10 new customers who most likely have other objections that you will overcome. As a point of reference most "no" answers come down to a handful of things: price, quality, likability, and timing. Timing is one of the most excellent no answers because it opens the door for follow up.

“I hear you saying that the timing does not work right now. When things slow down in a couple of weeks is it ok to circle back around then?” By asking for permission to follow up you are securing another opportunity to close.

II. Know Your Close Rate

A close rate is nothing more than the number of potential clients you must meet with in order to get a yes. In other words how many noes does it take to get to yes. By knowing this number you are guaranteeing success. For example, I know that for every three potential coaching clients I meet with, two will say yes to working with me. If that number was one in ten then to get ten clients I must have coffee with 30 prospects.

III. Understand False Yes

A false yes is essentially a no answer. My experience of creating, promoting, and hosting women’s events is that (if it is a free gathering and capacity is 30) I must have 90 women that tell me yes for 30 to show up. Yes has an attrition to it. Many people are more comfortable saying yes and not showing up rather than outright saying “no I don’t want to do that.” Doctors double and triple book patients for this exact reason and you can do the same. Bring work to every “appointment” understanding that odds are some may cancel or flake out.

IV. A No Answer is not personal

If you offered me a piece of gum and I said “no thanks” would you be devastated? Surely not, bad breath is a choice. The emotion of the gum stick rejection does not derail our day so keep no in perspective. Even a personal no answer, a breakup, still has nothing to do with you. That person simply does not want what you have to offer. Both being single and in a relationship is a choice. To quote my sister, “Sometimes zero is better than negative one.”

V. They Are Selling Too

In every customer client situation there are actually two sales people engaging. The sales person is going for yes while the client may be going for no. If you accept or rather buy their no then they were the better salesperson that day. When you think of it in those terms your persuasion skills begin to activate rather than manipulation. Persuasion is more about how both parties benefit rather than just one side.

In conclusion, consider this quote, it's mine if you are wondering: "If it's not meant to be, it's meant to be better." When you believe that things are working for you they ultimately will. When you stay focused on collecting noes it will equal yes.

Jennifer Magley is a former professional athlete, speaker, author, and high performance coach. Article originally appeared on www.magleyjennifer.com/blog More information can be found at www.magleyjennifer.com and videos on YouTube.