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May 1999



What Part of "No" Don't You Understand? - Steve Spaulding

Steve Spaulding

No. It's simultaneously the smallest and biggest word in Network Marketing. We've come up with cute affirmations, like the famed "Some Will, Some Won't, So What, Someone's Waiting!" and they work great-- for Networkers who are thick-skinned enough to stick around for the "Some Will." The fact we all know is that the word "No" probably drives more people out of this business than all the other reasons combined.

Ever think about what it would be like to have a sales organization of people who actually wanted to go out and get that response? I'm offering you a way to understand every "No" you hear, and a way to respond to every "No" you hear, that will make that a possibility.


What Do You Make Up About "No"?

Here's a personal example of something I once made up about the word "No." It happened when I was 13 years old attending Catholic school. We had our first dance and it worked like this: The girls all stood on one side of the auditorium, the boys stood on the other, they fired up the music, and if you wanted to dance with a girl, you had to walk all the way across the auditorium-- by yourself-- and ask her. If she said "No," you had to turn and walk all the way back to your side with everyone knowing you got slammed.

Personally, I didn't want to dance-- I wanted a kiss-- but I knew if I didn't dance, I probably wouldn't get the kiss, so I decided to do the uncomfortable thing anyway. I'd determined two weeks ahead of time who I was going to ask. When the day came, as scared as I was, I walked across, asked her to dance, and she said "No." All the girls giggled, and I turned around, my face red, and saw all the guys elbowing each other in the ribs and pointing at me, laughing. As a 13-year-old, it was easy to conclude from such an experience that there was something wrong with me, that my ears were too big, my haircut wasn't good, my pants were to short, girls didn't like me.

That happened to me, and 15 years later I saw that same girl at my ten-year high school class reunion. I asked her why she turned me down that night, and you know what she said? "I had a crush on this other boy, and I thought if I danced with you, it would hurt my chances of getting to dance with him." Not until 15 years later did I find out that her saying "No" didn't have anything at all to do with me!

Take a look at how similar the story is so often in Network Marketing. A new distributor is all enthusiastic about the company he just joined, decides who he wants to "dance" with (after his sponsor's said, "Oh, dancing's easy"), calls them up, and hears, "No, not interested." If he's not prepared, he doesn't know what that "No" means, and he feels crushed! He's at high risk of quitting, or at the very least, making up that this is going to be harder than he first thought.

And we wonder why people fail in Network Marketing.

Of course, there's a reason why "No" is such a serious word for us. It's the very first word we learn as human beings. As babies, we learn that "No," by definition, means "Stop! You're doing something wrong/bad/dangerous!" I have a three-year-old-- here's how No sounds in our house: "AJ, no, NO, NO!" Translation: Get your fingers out of the socket, don't yank the lamp cord because it's going to pull the lamp down on your head ... we want him to stop what he's doing because it's wrong, bad or dangerous.

Now, as adults, we go out to start a business and develop an organization, and the three answers we're going to get are: Yes, Maybe, and No. That means that at least 33 percent of the time, and often more, we're going to hear "No." If "No" is still landing like "Stop! You're doing something wrong/bad/dangerous!" you can see the problem-- not only for yourself, but for everyone in your sales organization. By now, we've also learned the wonderful skill of elaboration. We come up with additional nuances, such as "This is going to be a lot harder than I thought ... no one wants this product ... no one's going to come into my organization ... I don't have what it takes."

It's important to note here that all the prospect brought to the party was a simple "No." You brought everything else.

How about leaving everything wrong and bad and dangerous out of your prospecting conversation?! Here's how...


No vs. Know

One of the most powerful shifts I ever made in my business was to hear the word "No" as "Know." Have you ever noticed that the words sound exactly the same whether someone says "No, I'm not interested" or "I'd like to know"? What are you hearing? Sometimes no means they don't know enough. More often then not, it means "I don't have enough information at this time, so no, I'm not interested yet." That doesn't mean that you're a bad person, that you can't build a sales organization, or that your product is difficult to sell-- what it means is that you haven't established a relationship or built enough value yet.

Of course, there's a reason why "No" is such a serious word for us. It's the very first word we learn as human beings.

Why do I say this? Because if you offered someone a successful Network Marketing organization, it would be virtually impossible for someone to say "No, I don't want it, no way" because who wouldn't want a powerful, residual income that kept coming for a lifetime and beyond? What they don't know is that income is within their reach-- if they're willing to build it. And that is our job to show them. It's what Network Marketers get paid for.

So when I hear "No," I say to myself, "It's my job to get them to know."

There are two benefits for you here.

First, by hearing "Know," you won't go into all the bad/wrong/dangerous stuff. Those are the kind of thoughts that are going to hold you back in your business and make you want to quit, so there's nothing more important to your success than preventing those thoughts in the first place. By hearing "Know," you'll start thinking of creative ways to share information with the person and avoid the negativity

Second, you'll sponsor more people! Simply respond to your next No/Know like this: "Okay, thanks for your time. Hey listen, would you mind if I keep you in the information loop from time to time in case your situation changes?"

Almost everyone will say "Sure," or "Okay, that's cool." It's a low-key sell that opens the door to your "drip" campaign-- the perpetually underestimated stage of prospecting. Get this one, folks. An effective "drip" campaign works. It builds value through fact.

If you tell me "No," but say I can keep in touch with you, I consider you a strong lead! I'll find articles in the newspaper that pertain to the benefits of my opportunity. If I know you like to take vacations in a certain part of the world, I might find out a bit of information about that and drop you a brochure. I might bring you an article about my company that appeared in a magazine. I might bring you a sample. In as many creative ways as possible, I'm going to keep you in the information loop so that the next time I see you, I'm going to say, "Hey Jane, I pulled this article out of the Wall Street Journal, it talks about retirement income and what an extra $1,000 could do most family households. I thought you'd think it was interesting."

And that's our responsibility-- in Network Marketing, the advertising dollar is paid to the sales force through the compensation plan. Chevrolet spends how many millions a year to advertise their pick-ups that are built, as we all know, "Like a Rock." Now, they know that most of the people who hear those ads are never going to buy a Chevy pick-up, but they keep their product and their information in front of us. They keep building value, so when the day comes that one of us does go out to buy a pick-up, what kind of pick-up will we want? Well, one built like a rock, of course. If you bought a Ford pick-up, it's okay-- the game is still the same. You bought "Ford tough."

Situations change! If you've been keeping in touch-- she's likely to think, "I'm going to give Steve a call"...

The same thing is true for a Network Marketing opportunity. Maybe I approached Jane right when her husband got promoted to senior vicepresident, her own business is going great and she just inherited a million dollars. She doesn't have any need for additional income and my opportunity offers no value for her at the present time.

But let's say that over the course of a year as I bump into her at the grocery store or see her at parties, I pass along a little information here and there using this technique. Suddenly her husband loses his job, or her business takes a downturn, or she experiences a family tragedy. She starts feeling like she's working non-stop and not spending any time with her kids. Situations change! If you've been keeping in touch-- keeping your product present in her mind like Chevy's advertising-- she's likely to think, "I'm going to give Steve a call," or the next time she sees me, she's going to say, "Tell me more about this... ." That's the opening we want, the one we're working towards and looking for.

"But . . ." you ask, "what if they only said I could keep in touch to be nice?" Good question-- and don't do the guess work about what someone's "No" means. As a general rule, hear "No" as "Know" so you both stay in the game, but if you have a serious (as in not paranoid) doubt, then ask! If I've been keeping in touch with a prospect for a few months and have doubts about whether they really meant "No way," I'll say, "I don't want to be a bother or a pest to you, and if this is something that you're absolutely not interested in staying informed about, please let me know now because I don't want to be offensive. I can always just close your file." I don't mind doing that, because I have a lot to offer, and I can always give it to somebody else.

Most people say "No, no, I don't mind the information." No one wants their file closed, they feel as if something's being taken away from them! It feels too permanent. And if someone says "No, no way, never, ever, no," by all means move on. The no-way-nevers, though, are far fewer than you think.


The Best News About "No"

I've been involved in Network Marketing for 25 years and attended more company conventions than I can count. I've been in the audience as a brand new distributor and on the stage as the keynote speaker; I've been there hoping my organization would grow, and I've been recognized as a top income earner of the year.

Over the years, I've observed a common thread among these events that is extremely powerful. At every single convention, a variation of one of the following two scenarios always takes place:

1) The top producers, Joe and Janet Johnson, are introduced and received with a huge round of applause. They come up on stage to accept their award and their check and their trip to Paris, and say:

"First of all, we'd like to thank our organization, because if it wasn't for our organization, we wouldn't be here. We'd like to thank the company, and we're proud to be a part of it. But most of all, we'd like to thank our sponsor, Mary, who we said "No" to 167 times, and Mary, we'd like to thank you for not stopping at 166."

2) The top producers, Joe and Janet Johnson, are introduced and received with a huge round of applause. They come up on stage to accept their award and their check and their trip to Paris, and say:

"We'd like to thank our organization, we'd like to thank the company, but most of all, we'd like to thank our sponsor, Mary, for sticking with us. When my wife told me Mary was coming over to talk to us about this opportunity, I told her it didn't matter what it was, there was no way I would get involved with it. We only agreed to hear her out because we felt sorry for her. Mary, in front of the convention, we'd like to thank you for sticking with us until we got it right."

Everyone's heard this, but we still don't get it! It's so common, and yet we continue to ask "How do I sponsor big hitters, how do I find leaders?" If the top producers in every Network Marketing company said "No" first, then if your prospects say "No," they qualify! You should be thinking/hearing, "Man, this great-- this guy's going to be in front of the convention talking about me!"

Remember that success in this industry, like anything else, is a learned skill. The good thing is, it's easy to "earn while you learn." Next time a prospect says "No," understand that this prospect could be the very leader you've been looking for, and respond as if they said, "I don't Know enough yet to say Yes"!


STEVE SPAULDING is a 25-year veteran of Network Marketing. He is a sought after coach, speaker and trainer internationally, an Upline Master, a member of the Network Marketing Hall of Fame, and recently co-produced the best-selling tape series Start. Right. Now! Steve, his wife Susan and son AJ, live in Scottsdale, AZ. For information about Steve's trainings and speaking engagements, email or fax 602-563-0991.

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Reprinted with permission from Upline, Spaulding Feature - May 1999, 888-UPLINE-1,