No is Not Always No

Except for dating, I tell participants in my workshops and my clients, no does not always mean no.  Sometimes it means not now.  Frequently it means I don’t have enough information.  In sales and fundraising it might mean that at the moment, that cost is too high.  And sometimes, yes, it means nope, just not interested.

A big part of your job in fundraising at least is to find out what that no actually means—even the one that says there is no interest in your offer-- and what you need to do to turn it around, if turning it around is appropriate.  

Recently, I was asked to consider a project.  There were documents in a program I don’t use.  I asked if there was another way that I could access the information.  No, I was told, we use this program for everything we do. The explanation was clear, and it made sense to me.   I would have seriously considered signing up so I could use the program.  But then the next sentence, after this lovely explanation of why this program was important to them said, “…let’s pass on this opportunity.”

I was…I’m not exactly sure what I was.  Surprised, I guess.  Because, as I’ve said, except for dating and all that.  It made me think about all the times that prospects—both in fundraising and my consulting work--initially said no to me.  How much poorer my organizations (and me!) would have been if I said, OK, let’s pass on this opportunity.

Usually my first response to a no is to make sure that what person is saying is no.  After all, it is rare that someone simply says “No!” Usually they says other things:

·      Wow, this is really expensive

·      I can’t do this…..

·      It’s not floating my boat

And all kinds of other things.  Saying no is actually pretty hard.  Depending on what is said, I might rephrase what I heard to make sure that, yes, indeed, that is what was said or to try to get more information.  Often, I’ll simply ask them to tell me more.  Sometimes I find there is more than one concern; more than one reason for that no. Before I respond and come up with a solution that may not be a solution, I need to know what is really going on. 

Most of the time, the prospect simply needs more information.  But find out if giving the information right now is what is needed or if you need to slowly educate the prospect by bringing them closer to your organization and what you do.

Finding out about that no will take you a little closer to yes—if not for this ask, then one a little further down the road.