It’s not a law.  Sometimes, people will buy from you or accept your idea or go on a date with you right off the bat.  But most don’t.

This is an important axiom precisely because it is largely ignored by anyone not in sales.  Sales people are pretty damn smart.  They know that the amount of “no” out there is a lot bigger than the amount of “yes.”  So many of them live by the code that some will, some won’t, who cares, NEXT!  It’s a living, right?  And some are ruthlessly proficient at this.

hammer1The problem is that not all industries are formatted like this.  Some companies are predicated on a few HUGE orders (think airplane manufacturers, anything government contract related, regulated industries, etc.) or based on innovations within the space.  In these types of industries, you can ask the same question a billion times and will still get a resounding no.  The previous strategy falls flat.

Innovation is not one brilliant idea.  It’s a hundred good ideas that were told no.  It takes a long time to manufacture consent, before manufacturing that innovation into a great, market moving product that the masses all of a sudden couldn’t live without.  I find that most people are very scared to get to no.  Everyone wants to get to yes, but very few are willing eager to get the ball rolling and hear the no first.  But that’s what it takes.

Before getting to yes, you have to hear a whole lot of no from all angles.  Customers, sales, engineers, designers, managers and peers will all have to get in their reasons why something could be improved or could be a failure.  Some of them will be wrong.  Some of them will be right on the money, but all of them have to have a say and most will likely point out the flaws of an idea before promoting the good parts of it.  That’s human nature.  Those negative sounds about your project or idea are actually the long term build of something great though.  Listen to them and use them to get to where you need to be.

“The ones that tear me down don’t know it, but they’re the same ones that build me.  Now quietly lean your head and say ‘yes, you can feel me.'”