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Go For No With Andrea Waltz

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You might be looking for a yes every time you have a new prospect, but what if that's the exact wrong approach? Instead of seeking out a yes, go for no. That's the advice from Andrea Waltz, author of the book Go For No, and she'll tell you how to fail your way to success.

Andrea’s Book, Go for No


Go For No With Andrea Waltz:

Full Transcript

Andrea Waltz:
There are weird situations. But from a sales standpoint, I find that really having the courage in the moment where you have that opportunity to ask the question is universal. And we find it with actors and actresses, and that can be stuff as simple as going on auditions or people in any kind of entertainment or performance arena, it’s like, you’re going on auditions and you’re sending out your queries to get published or whatever it happens to be, it requires a tremendous amount of persistence and tenacity and your willingness to hear “No”. From a sales standpoint, it’s every moment within the process, even sharing your ideas at work or asking for a raise, all of these things are moments where you have to put yourself in a vulnerable position where you’re going to ask for something

Liston Witherill:
You might be inclined to go for “Yes”, but maybe that’s not the right approach. What if it’s totally the wrong direction and it’s been leading you astray in everything you’re doing in sales for way too long? What if it’s more freeing to just go for no? Well, that’s what my guest today thinks and she’s Andrea Waltz, author of the book Go For No and a veteran thought leader in the sales space. Her book has well over 1000 reviews on Amazon. Go check for yourself. It’s approaching 2000 now. So, she knows what she’s talking about.

Liston Witherill:
And Andrea thinks that rather than avoiding rejection, you should stare it in the face. You should welcome it. You can think of it like exposure therapy. If you’re afraid of snakes or spiders or other creepy crawly things, just expose yourself to them. The same can go for no. In this episode of modern sales, all talk to Andrea Waltz about her philosophy on rejection, how you can apply it and why you should start going for no.

Liston Witherill:
Welcome to Modern Sales, a podcast that’ll help you sell more by understanding how people buy. I’m your host, Liston Witherill founder of Serve Don’t Sell, and I dig through academic research, interview people inside and outside of sales, and nerd out on psychology, economics and neuroscience to figure out how people make decisions. And I am on a mission to change the way 100 million people communicate so that buying B2B services can feel like the first sunny day of Summer. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Liston Witherill:
If you’re listening on Spotify, hit that Follow button so that you don’t miss a single episode. And if you’re listening on iTunes or Apple podcasts, please subscribe and leave a review. It will help me get the word out for the show so we can together change the way 100 million people sell. Thank you in advance for your help.

Liston Witherill:
How can you start going for no and kiss the depths of rejection goodbye once and for all? Find out in my interview with Andrea Waltz, author of Go For No, right after this short break.

Liston Witherill:
Hello there and welcome to Modern Sales. Once again, I am here with Andrea Waltz, author of Go For No. Andrea, welcome to the Modern Sales podcast.

Andrea Waltz:
Liston, I am so excited to be with you today.

Liston Witherill:
And I’m excited to be with you. And one point of commonality, other than both of us being in the sales space, you for much longer and with way more credentials than me, is we are both going to do the Think Outside the Script virtual tour.

Andrea Waltz:
Yes, that’s right. So, we’re both doing the tour and I am much older than you. So, we’ve established those two things.

Liston Witherill:
I didn’t say much older. I said more experienced, which is definitely an understatement because you wrote your book Go For No many years ago. And it’s not often that I read a business book on Amazon that has over a thousand reviews and especially such overwhelmingly positive reviews. So, I knew I had to have you on the podcast and this idea of Going for No, the first time I’d ever heard it was from this guy, Steli Efti, Close.io. I don’t know if you know he’s using your material probably without your permission.

Andrea Waltz:
Yeah, I know those guys. Yeah.

Liston Witherill:
Okay. So I never heard this concept before, but he said he trained his reps to get a certain number of nos every day. And that was the way he tried to get away from the feeling of rejection. So, why don’t we start just baseline, what is Go For No and why should we care about that?

Andrea Waltz:
Right. Well, we’ve created first of all, a huge marketing challenge, because when you say, “Go for no” to a sales person, that’s the last thing that they want. They want to go for “Yes”. So, kudos to us for really making it difficult on ourselves to get this out into the marketplace. But that said, the subtitle of the book is really what explains it, which is, Yes is the destination, No is How You Get There.

Andrea Waltz:
Obviously we all want yeses, yeses pay the bills. So, the whole philosophy is about intentionally increasing your failure rate. We use the word failure un-embarrassingly and liberally in the idea of, “Hey, you’re going to fail. You’re going to get rejected. You’re going to hear the word no. And the more that you do that, if you can fail intelligently, the more nos that you can get, the more yeses are out there.” So, I guess you could say that in the simplest way, it’s a numbers game, but there are so many nuances to that. And I hate to just throw that out because I also don’t want people to think that it’s not about building relationships and it’s not about having a quality presentation, but it is about getting out there and being willing to face those nos.

Liston Witherill:
How did this come about, this concept of facing no or going for no? What’s the story behind that? How did you first come up with that idea?

Andrea Waltz:
It’s funny that you would even say that because it actually is based on a story. In fact, our book is a fable, which a lot of people don’t know. And we start with a story that happened to my husband. And this goes back eons now, because we published the book about 20 years ago. And it’s based on a situation that happened to Richard. He was working in the menswear industry. He had left working for his dad who was a sales legend. He wanted to get out of his dad’s shadow. He left Chicago where he was living, moved to California, got a job selling suits for a living and was failing. And the District Manager came in one day, watched Richard end up getting this great sale. This man came in, said he wanted to buy an entire order of clothing, Richard proceeded to sell him a suit, sport coat, shirts, slacks. The whole thing came to $1,100. Sent the guy out and was waiting for the District Manager, this guy named Harold, to congratulate him.

Andrea Waltz:
And then, Harold asked Richard a question. He said, “Out of curiosity, Richard, what did that customer say ‘No’ to, of everything that you sold him, this great sale?” And Richard said, “Well, he didn’t say ‘No’ to anything, Harold. That guy, everything I laid in front of him basically, he bought.” And then Harold asked him the really kind of life changing question, which was, “Then how did you know he was done?” And Richard realized that he knew he was done because this guy had hit his mental spending limit. It was about $1,100. And once they arrived there, Richard basically wrapped the sale up and sent this guy in his way. And Harold told my husband, said, “Hey, I watched you sell and you’re not half bad, but your fear of the word no is going to kill you. If you could just learn to get over that, I think you could be one of the great ones.”

Andrea Waltz:
And so, that story is a story that we tell in the book within the scope of this fable. But it was also that story that changed my husband Richard’s life, because he did learn that. He did actually go through that experience and he realized that he didn’t like hearing no, and that if he could just be willing to hear no more often, that the yeses were out there. And so a few years later, well actually more than a few years later, he told me that story and he convinced me to quit my corporate job and launch a company basically on a story and an idea and a concept that we have tested and now trained many, many, many thousands of people on because we know it works.

Liston Witherill:
When I think about the way you positioned that story and what happened to Richard in that moment, it’s almost like this idea of solution selling, where you’re saying, “We have all these different pieces. What about the pocket square? What about whatever, new pair of slacks? What about this ascot?” Whatever it is at the store, right? Versus, I think about more of a consultative sale where I’d ask, “What types of events are you trying to go to? When do you really feel your best? When do you look good?” Or, “Who do you have to look good for?” Those are the kinds of questions I’d ask. Do you see those as being related? Or do you think that going for no is really the main idea where you’re sort of offering things with the prospect of someone saying “Yes” or “No” to them?

Andrea Waltz:
That’s a great question. I do see them as completely related. And actually something that we’ve kind of identified as of late, it’s interesting as we’ve been teaching this concept for so long that it’s evolved. We have evolved with it. We’ve evolved with the times of sales and business and of course, even technology, right? I mean, at some point it’s like, “Well, how do I go for no on social media? Is that a thing? Can it be done?”

Andrea Waltz:
But to your question, the answer is absolutely because what we see now is that everybody has their methodology, but that there are moments throughout anyone’s process, go for no moments, there’s that moment where you want to ask for that appointment or not. There’s that moment where you want to start asking questions and really say to the person, “Hey. So that I can make some recommendations, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?” Get that permission to start that consultative selling process. Or, do something as simple as upselling and more of a transactional nature like, “Hey, would you like this? Have you thought about that?” And so really, it’s I think that however you are selling, whatever you are using, it fits.

Liston Witherill:
Yeah. And of course, “Would you like fries with that?” Is the most genius up sell of all time. Excellent. The way I think about that also, as I advise my clients, that the goal of the sale is to get a yes or a no. It’s not to make sure that we’re going to convince someone to work with us because you can’t do that. The goal is a yes or no, which means no is just as valuable because I can ensure that I’m spending time with the right people and I’m not wasting their time either.

Liston Witherill:
So, have you encountered particular industries or situations where you are starting to advise people, “Don’t go for no there. That’s not going to work?”

Andrea Waltz:
Not really.

Liston Witherill:
You would say that.

Andrea Waltz:
I would say that, wouldn’t I? I’m such a salesperson. That’s what a salesperson would say. Yeah. Someone asked me and this was the most interesting question, she is a independent business owner, and so she goes for no in that area of her life, but she was telling me, she said, “Andrea, you talk about failure and you have to fail your way to success.” And she’s like, “I’m helping people.” She teaches people to be test pilots and to work with students. And she’s like, “When you’re a test pilot, the last thing you really want to do is fail.” I said, “Yeah, Kim. You’re right. I really can’t think of a really good situation for this for applying the failure way to be a successful philosophy.” Obviously in situations where it’s life and death, you want to get all of those failures out of the way and practiced before the real life situation comes up.

Andrea Waltz:
And so there are weird situations, but from a sales standpoint, I find that really having the courage in the moment where you have that opportunity to ask the question is universal. And we find it with actors and actresses, and that can be stuff as simple as going on auditions or people in any kind of entertainment or performance arena, it’s like, you’re going on auditions and you’re sending out your queries to get published or whatever it happens to be, it requires a tremendous amount of persistence and tenacity and your willingness to hear “No”. from a sales standpoint, it’s every moment within the process. Even sharing your ideas at work or asking for a raise, all of these things are moments where you have to put yourself in a vulnerable position where you’re going to ask for something.

Liston Witherill:
Yeah. And I think that in my experience, one of the big problems a lot of people have with this, and I work with owners of professional services firms, right? So these are experts, highly educated, decades of experience, often really know their stuff. And the idea that they’re going to put themselves in a situation where they may feel personally rejected is just revolting, right? And it’s not just limited to business owners or professional services, or obviously, lots of salespeople feel the same way. What are some of the psychological impacts when we hear “No”? And what are some ways that you think people can deal with those?

Andrea Waltz:
Yeah. Such a great question. The psychological impacts are huge. And this is where, when I started off and said, “We have a simple concept, which is almost like this numbers game concept, and yet there are so many nuances.” And the nuances really come into the psychology behind it, right? We’ve all been taught and trained not to fail. This is why we actually start our book off with trying to get people to think about failure in a different way. And this also dovetails in with a great book called Mindset by Carol Dweck, where she talks about this idea of having the growth mindset rather than the fixed mindset, which is, “Hey. I can learn something. I can fail and in doing this, in having this failure, it’s not about me as a person. It doesn’t say anything about my ability to say, do someone’s taxes or to help them in a legal services type of way, but it is about how I can serve better at a higher level and be willing to fail in that process.”

Andrea Waltz:
So, yeah. The psychology is huge. And we teach people a different kind of model for failure than most people think of. Most people, we’ve been taught and trained to avoid it and seek success. In the book, we have a little model where we say “Actually, instead of thinking of yourself in the middle and failure on one side and success on the other, think of yourself on one side, failure, rejection, hearing the word no in the middle, and the success and the yeses and everything that your after is on the other side of that.” And it’s about adopting that model rather than kind of sticking with that old traditional model.

Andrea Waltz:
And none of this, actually Liston, is even in the book. Some of this extra, I guess, mindset stuff in psychology is some of the stuff that we bring out in our course, for example, or just all the stuff, the content that I’m always putting on Twitter or Facebook, trying to encourage people, “Hey. You can’t take it personally. You can’t look for validation with someone saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, because if you seek validation based on someone’s answer, it’s never good enough.” They say there’s never a high enough dollar amount of a sale, there’s never enough sales because you find that the more you do that, the faster it disappears.

Liston Witherill:
Right. And of course, the novelty wears off and there’s this sort of graduation effect where when you start a new job, you think, “God, I don’t know if I’ll ever get a sale.” And then you get your first sale and like, “Oh, I don’t know when I’ll have a month where I have five.” And then, you do that. And you’re like, “What about 10? What about 20?” And the bar keeps moving up, I think for all of us.

Liston Witherill:
What is, in your training, one of the exercises that anybody listening to this might be able to take in order to dampen the effect that no has on them psychologically?

Andrea Waltz:
At its core, go for no is a… It’s kind of funny. Remember I told you, it’s like a marketing challenge. So, here’s more marketing challenge, what we’ve created, marketing challenge after marketing challenge. So it’s part philosophy, but it’s also part strategy. And that’s the part that I like because ultimately, mindset is huge. And we talk about that in sales all the time, right? Everybody’s “Mindset, mindset, mindset.” But at the end of the day, it’s like, well, what behaviors are you going to do differently? How can you change and actually implement something like this?

Andrea Waltz:
And so, the most powerful way that we teach, and this affects your psychology, but it affects it kind of on the back end, so it’s not about me convincing you, “Hey, listen, don’t fear no, and don’t take it personally. It’s okay.” But we can only do that for so long until… it’s like, you can’t talk at people, right? It just kind of goes in one ear and out the other.

Andrea Waltz:
So the strategy is, what we call setting no goals. And we teach people to set a goal for the number of nos that they’re going to hear. Instead of setting traditional yes goals, you set a goal for hearing, let’s say 10 nos this week. Instead of getting 10 appointments, try to get 10 nos. And it can be in any aspect of your business. It could be getting 10 nos sitting down with one client, recommending service after service, after service. “Hey, what about this? What about this?” Or, it could be 10 prospecting calls or what have you. When you do that, you get very behavioral-focused. You don’t worry about the yeses as much. So if I said to you, “Hey. I want you to pick up the phone right now and you have to get a yes. The call that you make, the next call, you have to get a yes.” Now you have all this pressure and you have all this stress like, “Oh, my God. I better be perfect.”

Andrea Waltz:
But if I said, “I just want you to make five calls and actually, just go for no. Just to get five nos.” That lack of pressure and stress coupled with the idea of upping your number and getting more behavior-focused, you might get a yes within those five. You also get five nos, presumably. And that’s the power of setting no goals is, it’s very behavioral-focused. We don’t focus so much on the results. So, we change on the backend. On the backend is where your psychology changes. You realize, “Wow. I just got five nos. I just survived.” Your confidence increases. You start to be able to detach from the outcome. These are all of the benefits of doing this exercise.

Liston Witherill:
I totally agree. And actually I wanted to mention, you talked about Mindset by Carol Dweck as one of the books that you recommend and use at least as part of your training. There’s a more recent book called Grit by Angela Duckworth, which is all about resilience. So, it’s sort of like the what next? After I understand that I need the right mindset, how do I develop it? And Grit is a great thing to read.

Liston Witherill:
On this topic of resilience, so recovering faster is a really… I use a lot of sports analogies because I love sports. And you think about Kobe Bryant towards the end of his career said he spent all his time after a game preparing for the next game because it was so hard on his body. And when he was younger, he could recover really, really fast. And so, that recovery time has a big impact in sales on, when I pick up the phone again, when I try to achieve another no in this case. So, what are some ways that when you’re working in your training, that you think about how to develop that muscle to recover faster so it doesn’t have such a big effect on us?

Andrea Waltz:
Yeah. I love your idea of the sports analogy. And certainly, I like sports analogies too, even though I play zero sports personally, but I do like them. And I think the word recovery is really important. The fact is, when it comes to rejection, that we’re fighting biology. And I tell people all the time that there’s a sting that happens when you get a rejection and to get a no that I don’t think we can get rid of. And I think to pretend otherwise would be doing people a disservice. I also hear people sometimes say like, “Oh, there’s no such thing as rejection. Just get over it.” I think that does people a disservice too because it kind of negates their emotions and their ability to feel bad, right? I think the more we acknowledge it, the more we actually empower people.

Andrea Waltz:
So, it’s out there. We’re wired to not be rejected. No one wants to get thrown out of the tribe and go hunting and fishing and gathering berries on your own. You won’t live long. That’s right? So, we have that. So the sting is always going to be there. How do we recover faster? Well first of all, it’s to be aware that that sting is normal and natural and not to avoid it. And the second thing is, that the more you do it, the more you do get numb to it. And that’s one of I think my primary mission when it comes to go for no is, to have people be willing to experience rejection more, understanding that the more you do it and the more you move through it, the better you get and actually, the more the recovery isn’t necessary.

Andrea Waltz:
You get one, no. And if you’re protective and you try to avoid no at all costs and you don’t want to be rejected, and then you finally try something and it’s this rejection and you have a horrible reaction and you get upset and you freak out and you’re screaming and crying, then yeah. Recovery is going to be really painful because of your emotional reaction. So, getting your emotions in check and not allowing that emotional reaction is huge. One way is to numb yourself, to do it enough. We talk about getting off the yes/no emotional roller coaster. So when you do get to no, you have to not even in your head and especially in your words, berate yourself, which I know a lot of people do. Like, “Oh, of course they said ‘No’. Who am I kidding? This is horrible. This is going to be a horrible day. I’m not going to be able to sell anything to anybody today.” And we do that sometimes. And maybe it’s just some kind of sick way to motivate ourselves, to inspire us. And yet, it’s the most subversive. It’s the worst thing that you can do is to say those things out loud.

Andrea Waltz:
So practicing not doing those behaviors, which really can inhibit your performance and as cliche as it sounds, you do have to think positive.

Liston Witherill:
In Carol Dweck’s book, she talks about this concept of internal versus external locus of control. And basically, that means people with a growth mindset tend to focus on things that they can do and they can change and what their role is in the world. And people who don’t have a growth mindset are inhibited by what’s happening out in the world. So, they’re more inclined to ask for permission, for instance, right? Or they think when they lose a sale, “It’s because other people in the world are totally in control and things just aren’t breaking my way.” And one of the things that I tell my audience, you dear listener listening to this right now, is if you have trouble with this, one exercise you can do is reflect on whenever something goes awry in the sales process or even when things go well, ask yourself, “What did I do? And what can I do differently next time?”

Liston Witherill:
And I think what you’ll find is sometimes, you lose a deal. It’s not your fault at all. There’s nothing that you could’ve done differently. And if I asked you, “Is it practical to think you can win every deal?” Of course, you would say “No”. And yet, we beat ourselves up over things that we get so personally invested in. So, that’s one exercise that I would recommend for anybody listening to this.

Liston Witherill:
You said that you wrote this book 20 years ago. Things have evolved. I’m curious from your perspective, what are some of the changes? Since you’ve been so close to sales for 20 years, this podcast is called Modern Sales after all, what’s different today about when you started? What are you seeing in terms of the evolution of sales?

Andrea Waltz:
Well obviously, we have a lot more technology and we have technology designed to reduce rejection and a lot more automation, right? So, if we can just send out a gazillion emails to get those appointment, set up, have a robot take the meeting, do the demo and then close the deal, it’d be perfect, right? Nobody gets rejected. That’s perfect.

Liston Witherill:
And there’s also no sales jobs in that world.

Andrea Waltz:
Exactly. Yes. So, we should all be terrified. Yeah.

Andrea Waltz:
So the automation is one thing, but what I have seen is that the psychological aspects and the mindset piece hasn’t changed at all. In fact, I wrote a blog. Not too long ago, I was talking to a couple young women and millennials and they were telling me how absolutely terrified they were to send an email to someone. I can’t even remember what the particular subject was, but they were asking for something and just the act of hitting send, they were kind of freaking out about it and how helpful go for no was to them.

Andrea Waltz:
And what I realized was, and I’ve seen this more and more, by the way, since I talked to them a couple of years ago, but I think of the two of them, because we actually were able to talk in person. And what I recognize now is that the technology doesn’t change the mindset. There’s still that intense fear of rejection. And so, the tools may help a little in terms of reaching someone at a great distance or whatever, but the fears are still exactly the same. So, sales managers still have to deal with the same fears that people who don’t want to go for no, who don’t want to be rejected, still have to deal with the same fears. They just might happen to be using Facebook to do it or LinkedIn or some other technology.

Liston Witherill:
Yeah. I had someone on the podcast recently and we were talking about the fact that people don’t change very much. The psychology and the way our brains work and the way we make decisions, that doesn’t change. But the environment around us changes constantly. And it’s changing faster than it’s ever changed. And so I think about, you’re talking about scalable outreach and some of the tools for that. Well, one of the ramifications there, and there’s great irony to this, is it’s now harder to get a meeting with anybody because it’s easier for everyone else to do the same thing that you’re doing. And all of the metrics support that over time.

Liston Witherill:
I’m going to pick on Sandler Training for a second, because that was created in… I don’t remember exactly. I think it was the ’50s. And he was originally a door to door salesman. And one of the parts of Sandler Training that I think is just absolutely no longer applicable is he would demand an answer before he left a meeting as long as he got it in his upfront contract. And that’s sort of predicated on the idea that there’s all these options in the market and I, the seller have more control over the information than you, the buyer. And boy, is that gone. I see that as a really, really big difference in how things have evolved as well.

Liston Witherill:
Okay Andrea, so this has been fantastic. I really appreciate you being here. I’m sure a lot of people want to learn more about you, about your book. What should they do to get a hold of you or learn more about you?

Andrea Waltz:
Easiest thing is to go to GoForNo.com. Just like it sounds. G-O-F-O-R-N-O.com.

Liston Witherill:
Fantastic. Thanks so much for being here.

Andrea Waltz:
Absolutely. It was just super fun.

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