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How to Handle a No! No! No! Sales Call

A little while ago, I contacted someone at a firm in my hometown. They’re a small, boutique company—probably too small to have their own marketing department—and I thought that they might be interested in my services as a marketing consultant. I emailed their business development person one morning and was able to schedule a quick call for that afternoon. Fast—and not much time to prepare.

Here’s how the call went after the opening introductions and small talk (spoiler: it’s a no! no! no! sales call)…

“I could do an audit of your marketing, and propose a few new directions for you.”

“I’m happy with our overall marketing strategy.”

“Ok, well, I noticed you don’t have any videos, I could help you with that.”

“Videos wouldn’t work for us.”

“We could look at doing a direct mail campaign.”

“We do that already and we like how it’s working.”

“Have you analysed your direct mail list?”

“Yes, we’re happy with it.”

“I could create a brochure for you…”

“We have a brochure and it’s fine.”

“I could help you update your website…”

“No, that’s not where we want to focus this quarter.”

“Have you considered looking at your sales presentation deck?”

“No thanks, I’m happy with it.”

In case you’re counting, that’s seven “no”s in a row. Now I feel discouraged, and what’s worse, I feel like I’m rifling off a laundry list of options, which isn’t the way I like to approach offering my services. Conversations are good. Lists are bad.

Obviously, this call isn’t working.

Know what? That’s ok—and normal. No! No! No! sales calls happen. They’re not fun. They’re awkward and they can even be unpleasant. But they happen.

So how do you deal with a No! No! No! sales call?


Not a sarcastic laugh or an exasperated laugh, but a good natured, “I feel silly” laugh.

And that’s what I did. I laughed. Then I said a couple lines that would serve as both a kind of apology and away to keep the door open for the future:

“Well, it doesn’t look like I can offer you anything today, but I still want to thank you a lot for inviting me to call you. If I have some other ideas later, do you mind if I sent them over?”

Now, people hate awkward conversations. So when you give them a way out, they jump on it. The second I laughed and said those two lines, he immediately jumped in with, “Oh sure! Things have been busy over here so maybe that’s best anyway…” We ended up chatting for a few more minutes and the call ended with nice warm fuzzy vibes all around. And that’s a much better way to end a No! No! No! sales call than with unresolved awkwardness.

It’s a big pond and there’s a lot of fish out there, so I’ll probably ply my trade to other prospects in the future. But—who knows—I might call that guy back one day. Since we left the conversation off with a laugh and a high note, that will always be an option.

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