Going for the “no”.



I spent yesterday lunchtime in the challenging company of Saul Djanogly , a Rabbi who looks after investment portfolios for those who can’t look after themselves- typically those who have been incapacitated through personal tragedy and find themselves in the hands of others.

Around a table laden with Sushi were his friends and business contacts- lawyers, accountants, people running Growth Accelerators, experts on social media – a Public Relations person. We were there at Saul’s behest, meeting for the second time to see what might come up.

I’d worried the night before whether I should make time for this – I wanted to say “no” I’m glad I didn’t, I’m glad I was wrong.

The idea of the meetings is to develop a new idea that can benefit participants and those we work for. I’ll keep our big idea under wraps for now as it may come to nothing.

I have four pages of notes on the meeting with helpful tips from successful business people on how they get results.

These little ideas and the way people used them at work were invigorating.

One idea, introduced by Saul himself was referred to as “going for the no“. This sounds like something that comes out of a business book and indeed it is the catchphrase of an American sales guru named Sandler. I looked him up and found this stuff.

The key to his approach- and I found all the people in the room knew about it but me, is to give permission to say “no”.

One of the professionals at the table explained that he often kicked off a conversation by asking a question that he knew the answer to- the answer wold be “no”. He looked at me and asked..

“I assume your firm had no problems introducing pensions auto-enrolment…”

How many people are going to respond

“You assume correctly, my fine fellow- auto-enrolment was a cinch for us!”

Nope- your leading question is going to solicit a response that might vary from

“it was a nightmare- I wish we’d never used those advisers/that middleware/that pension provider’


“we got through , made a few mistakes along the way, learned a bit for re-enrolment”

Either way – the answer is “no” but in a positive way (at least the conversation has started).

I’d learned.


Saul pointed out that people love it when you give them the opportunity to be negative in a positive way. I went back to someone yesterday afternoon to tell them that I assumed the answer to my request for a meeting (after several requests from me) was “no”.

I was told

“no- I was wrong” ,

the meeting would happen but it had to happen on the other person’s terms. A simple question solicited what those terms would be. We have our meeting, qualified by the mutual understanding that there is no obligation on the prospect to buy and

yes” I was wrong.

People who always have to be right are difficult to deal with. They seldom get results, it’s the people who accept the “no” and deal with it – who get the eventual “yes”.

Being wrong in the right way, assuming the negative to solicit the positive, reading this guy Sandler’s books and watching his cheesy sales videos. -that’s what I’ve been doing this morning.

Did I want to go to Saul’s challenging lunch in Hendon- no!

Why did I go?

Because deep inside of me, there is something that challenges the “no” that told me to cry off.

This something that makes things happen is latent in every conversation we have, it is the emotional clitoris, which, when tickled can lead to mighty things.


And it’s housed in a deeply inaccessible place! Hendon- Sushi lunch – with Rabbi Saul!



About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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