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Let “No” Be Your Guide To Success


Last week I had an interesting conversation with Richard Fenton who exhibited at our last Sales Leadership Conference in Las Vegas. I asked him what caused him to write the little paperback book entitled ‘Go for No’ (Amazon) that’s been a consistent bestseller on Amazon.com for the past three years. He told me that he got the idea for the book from a most memorable sale. 

Since I love collecting memorable sales stories (we’ve published hundreds of them in Selling Power magazine) I asked Richard to write it down for me so I could share it in my blog. Here it is, Richard’s bittersweet, but inspiring sales story, as fresh as it had happened yesterday:

“Years ago I was working for a menswear chain, selling suits for a living, and to be honest I wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire.   In fact, my sales were so abysmal I was pretty sure they were going to fire me.   That’s when I heard that the district manager…  a man by the name of Harold…   was scheduled to visit.   And I thought:  Maybe if I can impress Harold, they’ll give me more time to improve my sales.

Harold showed up about nine-thirty in the morning, we opened the doors at ten, and because I was the first salesman in that morning I had first “up”.  And in walks this well-dressed gentleman who announces that he wants to buy an 'entire wardrobe' of clothing.  And sure enough, within 30 minutes, I had an $1,100 sale and I was certain that Harold would be impressed.

After several minutes Harold sauntered over and said, “Nice sale, kid.”  "Yep! $1,100!" I replied, my chest puffing out with pride.  Then Harold asked me a question that would literally change the course of my life. He asked:  "Out of curiosity, Richard, what did that customer say NO to?”   

“What do you mean?” I shot back.  “That guy just bought a suit, sport coat, three shirts, six ties, shoes, socks, a belt and underwear!  What do you mean, what did he say 'NO' to?”

Harold waited calmly for me to stop being defensive, then he said:  “We’ve already established what the customer said 'YES' to, Richard.  YES is always the easy part: All you have to do is take the sales check and look at the items listed, and those are the YESes.  What I want to know now is... What did he say NO to?”

I thought for a long time, mentally reviewing the sale in my mind, I realized the customer hadn’t said 'NO' to anything.  Everything I showed that man, he purchased.   I said to Harold:  “The customer didn’t say NO to anything.”   Then Harold asked me the OTHER really important question:  “Then how did you know he was done?”  

Harold’s question hit me like a punch because I realized the customer hadn’t ended the sale… I HAD!  And, why?  Simple!   You see, I had never spent over $1,000 on a shopping trip on clothing in my life, so when anyone went over a thousand bucks… my mental spending limit… hey, they were done!  

Harold said, “I watched you sell and you’re not half bad.   But your fear of the word no is going to kill you.   If you can get over that…  if instead of AVOIDING “NO” you could learn to GO FOR NO…  I think you could be one of the great ones."

It was amazing…  I had gone into work that morning hoping to keep my job, and I went home that night two letters from greatness.

And the letters were N... and O. 


Please share your comment on this post, or send me your most memorable sale to gg@sellingpower.com.
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cl boots

I find life an exciting business,The point is succinctness of expression.

business sales training

What a great story! I remember in my retail days training associates "show show show until they say NO". I think people are afraid of a "no" because they take it personally. Once you can get beyond that the opportunities are endless.

trish bertuzzi

Just read this book on a plane the other day after I got a copy from Andrea at Sales SheBang. Turned my thought process around about how to not only get to quota but get past it. Reached out to Andrea and going to buy a case and give one to every inside sales rep we coach!

Lacoste shoes

It is easy to be wise after the event?You never know what you can do till you try?


This little book is amazing, at first my husband read it and suggested I read it. At first I didn't think it would work, and after reading the book my conversion has increase because I am not afraid of No's any more.


I am on my way to doubling my sales results within 6 months. This is so easy, its nearly a crime that its not in more sales training.


I love this book...

It has changed my mindset about receiving a No, so much so that I work through more prospects and find more Yes's.

A bit hard to explain in such a small space, grab a copy, its only 80 pages and will be the best $12 you ever spend. You sales quota will sky rocket as a result :)

Lisa G

Great selling story!
(PS. Andrea Waltz is co-author with Richard on "Go For No!")

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