Please, just say no.

young woman with board NOAs I approach the third anniversary of life as an entrepreneur, I find myself increasingly contemplating the complexity behind this two-letter word - "no". 

Like everyone in business, it is the most dreadful response that no one wants to hear. My frustration is that I never hear it.

"No" is taboo; my prospects (and yours) rarely say it.  "No" has evolved into a complex set of behaviors, verbal and nonverbal,  and like everything else nothing is simple anymore.

"No" is emails not responded to.

"No" is "sounds good let me think about it"

"No" is anything but "yes".

What I find incredible is the fact that I want to hear it.  I am an avid fan of Shark Tank where "no" is prevalent and direct, often accompanied with a stab in the heart - "this is not a business, you are never going to make any money, and for that reason I'm out".

Pundits and sales experts will tell you that if you didn't close the sale you failed to properly convey value, or that you simply did everything wrong. Unlikely. You can do everything right and still get a "no".

Utilizing clever questioning techniques, we could attempt to find out what is really going on and we're well on our way to "yes". Unlikely, as this is clearly a Buyers' market century and Industrial era "have I got a deal for you" is dead.

Reality, as I found out in the past three years, is that life really gets in the way. Everyone is too damn busy to take a few minutes to think something through. As a result, we are overwhelmed, stressed, and just try to stay afloat. We tend to take the easy way out and get one more monkey off-our-back. Hey, I am busy and there a lot more decisions to be made. 

Could the implied "no" signal that our prospect is hanging-by-a-thread and that this decision is not going to change her life. Maybe later. Maybe never.

Could the implied "no" also indicate that they are, or think they are, too polite to say no. Or too tired to give us an opportunity to try to sell; in other words, "if I say no he will keep trying but if I am vague I can get out of this and ignore his calls and emails". 

We should stay in touch, in a gentle kind of way, because things change. But most importantly, what we should really do is just move on. There is no shortage of leads and we have to plow through hordes of busy and overwhelmed prospects for a chance to hear the magical "yes".

That is why marketing and sales are no longer separate entities. They must coexist and be in a continuous 'sync' to be effective. It is a complicated process, because we live in a complex and perpetual information overload. 

For all of the energy, long hours and efforts we put into trying to make a living, is it too much to ask for a "no"?