Here's an article I wrote that may provide some insight for producers struggling to raise money, sell a script, attach an actor or convince someone in some way to help get a project off the ground...
Six Ways to Turn a No into a Yes
by Mark Heidelberger
“No.” Say it out loud a few times. No... No... NO. Few words in the English language have that same level of power. Can I have some water? No. Do you want to go out some time? No. Will you buy my service? No. The word is so powerful, in fact, that entire sales strategies have been developed just to avoid hearing it. Asking open-ended questions and consumer relationship-building techniques are some of the most common examples.
As a business owner operating in the free market, you’re constantly wooing new customers. However, the prospect of hearing “no” becomes more likely as you approach more customers. That’s just statistical inevitability. Even if they don’t use that exact word, you’ll become adept over time at interpreting routine excuses as a nicer form of no.
But does that mean you have to settle and move on? Quite often, a no is simply a potential customer’s way of saying that his or her needs haven’t been met yet. Look at it as an opportunity to clarify, alter or adjust your message in order to better satisfy the customer’s desires. By modifying your message, or at least the way it’s delivered, you have the chance to turn that no into a yes.
That said, there are six popular ways that customers often say “no” to new businesses. Each one of them is communicating a different concern, and each one requires a different response.
This Isn’t Something I Need: Customers who say they don’t need something are actually telling you they don’t want it. But it’s your job to know your customer. Make them see that whatever you’re selling is not just something they need, but something they’ll want. Play into their desires. Help them imagine how much better off they’ll be once they receive your product or service. Creating a sense of want in your potential customer makes it that much easier to push for the elusive yes.
Maybe Down the Road: Ah, the old procrastination technique. This is the customer letting you know that you’ve failed to create a sense of urgency. As a side note, it’s important to differentiate between someone who honestly wants time to consider your offer and someone who is trying to gently brush you off. In the case of the former, explain that there’s a small timeline in which to act or play up the limited nature of the product. Also, explain the negative consequences of failing to act.
This Is Too Expensive: Customers who say this are telling you they don’t see the value in your product or service. This leaves you with one of two choices. First, you can lower the price. Ask the customer what price would be more acceptable. If they say they’d buy it for a dollar, then it’s just a matter of figuring out the right price. The second option is to convince them that what you’re selling is worth the price. Once again, to do this, you have to create that sense of want by playing into their desires.
I Don’t Know You: They might as well come right out and say, “I don’t trust you,” because that’s what they mean. You need to build trust with the customer in order to overcome this objection. Spend an extended amount of time building a relationship with them. Provide quality references from other satisfied customers. Perhaps even offer some initial services at little or no cost. These things will allow the customer to see what type of business person you are with little upfront risk to themselves.
I’ve Heard This All Before: Wow, tough one. This is the mark of a customer who’s desensitized by the many who have come before you selling the same exact thing. Or was it the same thing? Such a response puts you in a position to play up the unique nature of your product. Differentiate it from the others. Make yourself stand out from the crowd. Use this opportunity to make whatever you’re selling stronger, faster or better than the competition.
I Don’t Have Time: This all-too-familiar refrain is the customer actually letting you know she is bored or uninterested in whatever it is you’re selling. Reading between the lines early on will allow you to shift gears and engage her in a more dynamic pitch that creates interest, intensity and excitement in your product. Find a catchy hook that grabs the listener’s attention. Spruce up the presentation. And state your case with passion. You’ll notice the customer won’t even have time to look at her watch.
However, at the end of the day, take heed in the fact that, no matter how good a salesman you are, sometimes the customer still walks. And it is precisely these moments that serve as valuable learning experiences. Assess what went wrong and use it to tweak your approach, your offer, your presentation, whatever. The more you learn from these nos and the better you adapt, the more yeses you can generate in the future. Sometimes our past mistakes are the best way to turn no into yes. In other words, turn the power of no into the power of know!