The Need for Approval – How Much is it Costing You?


You bend over backwards. You offer to tie their shoes.  You bring them cold lemonade.  Nothing satisfies them.  Nothing gets them to say "yes."

No, I’m not talking about your family or your in-laws.

I’m talking about your prospects.

You tell them your Elevator Speech.  You tell them all the benefits of working with you.  You offer to work below market-rate.  And still they walk away, say "no" – or worst of all – they fib and tell you they need to think it over. 

And it strikes you right in your heart.  It makes you feel worthless and question your value.  You end up asking yourself if you are making a mistake with this business of yours?  Are you off-base with your idea of a service people need?  Are you pushing too hard?  Not hard enough?

Why does this lack of response hurt so much?

What does the “yes” you wanted from the prospect really mean to you?  If they become clients, what does it prove?

All That Drama.  What Does It Prove?

For most of us, it proves they like us, approve of us.  Ouch!!!

Yes, you’ve heard it so much, that it has become immutable and irrefutable in your mind.  People do business with people they like.

Just follow the logic for a minute. If they don’t do business with me, then they don’t like me!  I must be even more of a hopeless than I thought! 

No, no, no, no, no.  

You need to be aware that there are many reasons a prospect might not say yes.  Here are a few of them:

  • They thought they were ready, but your penetrating questions make them realize they’re not ready.
  • They were sort of toying with the idea and you helped them understand how real it was.
  • They are gathering proof for someone else (spouse, partner, boss, committee members) and are not authorized – they don’t have permission- to say “yes.”
  • They are not committed to change.
  • They’re scared of change and pretty certain working with you will require some change.
  • They (or someone else involved in the decision) don’t believe they’re worth the investment you represent.
  • What they want isn’t important enough to for them to get out of their comfort-zone.
  • It’s easy for them to persuade themselves the problem wasn’t that bad – or if they wait awhile the problem will go away. (This is also known as denial).
  • If they work with you, they have to stop complaining and blaming others, and take definitive action.

Other reasons might be price or cost issues:

  • They didn’t do their homework and have no idea what a decent expert with your expertise and experience should cost.
  • They thought your service was free – or next to free – and got sticker shock.
  • They are never going to pay a fee above $200 for a service like yours, even though there are plenty of clients paying $2,000 for similar services.
  • Changing their life to solve their problem just isn’t worth it to them.

In the end, all of these reasons boil down to this – there are ultimately two possible issues:

  • Your sales and conversion skills need to be honed.
  • They were never your people to begin with. 

I am going to make a sales coaching suggestion that I believe is critical for you to take to heart:  if they were never your people to begin with, then you are better off finding that out sooner than later.

Good News!  Set Aside the Need for Approval

You really only need a single solution: polishing your sales skills addresses both of these problems. And it lets you set aside that need for approval.

Good sales skills allow you to weed out early all those people who were not yours.  You can even do it with an email or your web site copy, if you choose.

It’s called qualifying, and doing it well can mean you spend your valuable time using your problem solving and selling skills with the people who are really yours –  the people for whom you can make a real difference, and get well paid for the privilege.

And I think we both agree, that’s where you belong.

Take Action – Make This Your Own

In the week ahead, start looking deeper:

  1. Review some recent prospect conversations.
  2. Ask yourself what is most important to you:  1) securing the commitment so you can make a difference for the client? Or 2) being liked, not rocking the boat, not asking a question that might annoy them (like “when did you want to have this problem behind you?”). 
  3. Are you hoping that if you and the prospect talk about pets or sports long enough, they’ll like you so much they’ll ask to do business with you?

The bottom line?  Are you trading the illusion of being liked for revenue, for your business success?

You can also check out these related posts:

“The Customer’s Always Right – Oh, Yeah?” 4 Tips for Handling Difficult Customers
Is Fear Devouring Your Business?
Squeamish About Selling: Which of These 3 Beliefs?

Share a comment:  What steps have you taken to overcome this challenge?


  1. says

    “Are you trading the illusion of being liked for revenue?” Owie, owie, owie!

    You have a genius for asking the pointed questions we need to hear and answer. Thanks a whole flippin’ lot. 🙂

    • Pat Schuler says

      Kathleen – Thanks for saying so!

      I remember all the years that that question described me – to a tee. It’s one of the reasons my radar is so strong when I see it or hear it in my clients.

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