Dream BIG-Achieve More: What to do when someone says no.

Dream BIG-Achieve More: What to do when someone says no.

Dream BIG-Achieve More: What to do when someone says no.

By now, you know that I love to ask questions that help people to dream bigger and achieve more.

Recently, I was talking with a salesperson who had some big dreams that she wanted to go after, but in order to do that… she had to achieve more in her sales position. She also explained that she was great at making connections with people but she had trouble gaining commitment on the spot. She felt really good about her product and had no trouble being enthusiastic about it, but she was starting to feel stuck.

Marty and Mitch (at 13)

So I told her a little story and asked her a few questions that really seemed to help.

Here’s the story… and here are the questions…
As I mentioned in my book… IGNITE!A little book to spark your BIG dreams… when I was a kid, I was obsessed with bikes. Then at 13, I landed my dream job at my small town’s bike shop. (Let’s be honest. I was there so much, they either had to hire me or arrest me for loitering.)

I loved to talk with people about bikes so I was what you would call an “enthusiastic salesperson.” However, most people considering spending $500+ on a bike… weren’t always excited to take advice from a 13-year-old.

Moreover… there seems to be a conditioned response dialogue that happens in retail stores across the country. It was true then and it is true now. Here’s how it usually plays out:

  • A person walks into a store
  • A salesperson greets them and asks, “May I help you?” in some form
  • The customer (even if they know exactly what they want) says, “No thank you. I’m just looking.”

Right? It plays out all the time.

Now, I can tell you that when I was just getting started in my sales career… I heard the phrase “No, I’m just looking,” a lot. So, I would simply take that as my cue to head back to the workbench and continue to put bikes together.

But, very quickly, Marty… the wise bike shop owner (and one of the best salespeople on the planet)… stopped me.

He said…

“Listen, they are just saying that because they think they need to say that. But they actually want your help. So you have to stay close. You need to find a way to stay close. So, if that means dusting off some bikes… do it. If that means moving some clothing around… do it. If that means… shifting some things in the display case… do it. Give them space… but stay close. I guarantee you that 9 times out of 10… they will ask you for help in a minute or two. But then it is their idea and it’s on their terms.”

I have to admit that at first, I thought this was a little crazy. But I tried it.

In fact, I started to carry a shop rag in my back pocket. When a customer gave me the “No thank you, I’m just looking.” I would smile, say “Ok, I’m here if you need me,” and start dusting bikes. (They never needed dusting by the way!) Oh… I’d also make small talk from time to time… asking them about their riding… or their t-shirt… or even the weather.

True to form… sometimes in seconds or minutes… I’d hear… “Ummm, do you have this in blue?” Or… “If a guy were going to go on RAGBRAI, what kind of shorts would he need?”

Then this 13-year-old (annoyingly-enthusiastic) salesperson would go to work! But again, it was on the customer’s terms… and when the customer was ready. And trust me, I sold A LOT of bikes that way.

The difference was… I stayed close. I was there when they were ready. I was accessible. Heck, in those few short minutes… I even started to build a relationship. I started to let them know that I was safe. In some cases, I was even able to show them this 13-year-old-punk kid knew a thing or two about bikes.

So, that’s the story.

Click here to find out more about IGNITE!

Now… here are the questions:

  • How could you “stay close” to your customer (or future customer)?
  • How could you “stay close” to someone who could help you with your big dream… but they’re just not ready yet?

I know… I know… you’re not on a bike shop floor. It wouldn’t probably work to carry a rag in your back pocket and start dusting your customer’s office or the tables at the local coffee shop.

Nope. But there are ways for you to “stay close,” aren’t there?


For example, I coach a lot of other coaches. I ask them to think about “staying close” with those potential clients who are interested in coaching but they are just not quite ready to invest.

For example, one of them is a voracious reader so she now sends out a bi-weekly “book report” to her “stay close” list. She simply says this is what I’m reading… these are a few of the main points that have benefited me and here are a few reasons why they may benefit you. She includes a few questions to get them thinking and a link to the book on Amazon.

Short. Simple. Sweet. And it’s something she’s doing anyway.

But it allows her to “stay close,” build relationships and show credibility.


Another client of mine is in direct marketing. In her case, she meets with a lot of people who express interest but still say a form of “No thank you. I’m just looking,” at her initial meetings.

Up to this point, she had just been checking them off her “warm list” and moving on to the next person. But when we started to talk about “staying close,” she started to apply this concept. So now, when someone says “no,” she takes that as a “not yet.” And instead of just moving on, she asks to put that person on a simple email list.

Now she sends out a simple monthly email that includes valuable tips on life but also includes success stories from her company. It’s not over the top pretty. In fact, she keeps it pretty simple. But it comes from the heart and it offers some helpful information and some fun stories.

This kind of strategy has allowed her to “stay close” to a number of people who have told her “no” in the past, but just needed a little bit of time to help make up their mind… or make sure it was their idea. After a week or a month or even a year of getting these updates, she’s had people reach out to her to say, “Okay. I’m ready.”

Okay… those are a few ideas.

Now granted, sending emails is not a revolutionary concept for large companies. We all receive them. But… often times… we as individual salespeople or business people miss the opportunity to find ways to “stay close” even when someone tells us no… or not yet.

So here are few more questions to keep you thinking about applying this concept of “staying close” to your own world:

  • Who are some people that you want to “stay close” with? (Maybe it’s potential customers or someone that you’d like to get on board with your big dream.)

  • How could you use a simple email, a hand-written note (gasp) or social media to “stay close” and help them in the process?

  • What could you do from time to time to bless the socks off of your “stay close” list?

Think about it.

Because whether you’re in sales or whether you just need to build up some relationships with peeps who could help you with your big dream… “staying close” to the people who say “no” or “not yet” can make all the difference!

Experiment with it.

Stay close and just see what happens!

Lastly, if you have some ideas to share… or some examples of things that you’ve done to love your “stay close” list… click comments and join in the conversation. We’d love to hear from you!

Keep dreaming BIG and helping others to do the same,

Mitch Matthews

  • JImi
    Posted at 23:41h, 21 July Reply

    Great read! Obvious, but so overlooked! Thanks for pointing that out! Keep up the great work. Thanks for sharing good ideas with us.

  • Pingback:BIG Dream Gathering Podcast with Dr. Mollie Marti | Big Dream Gathering
    Posted at 11:08h, 22 July Reply

    […] Dream BIG-Achieve More: What to do when someone says no. (mitchmatthews.com) […]

  • Jocelyn Wallace
    Posted at 15:22h, 25 July Reply

    I love this post! I can’t wait to create a “stay close” list of people and think of creative ways to make myself available whenever they are ready to ask more questions. FANTASTIC encouragement!

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