What are your options when somebody interrupt you on your selling time? Probably your sales will suffer if your time is spent on other tasks other than selling.

Unless you’re the CEO, there will be times when somebody asks you to do something that you can`t do it at that moment. You may have already experienced times in sales when you’ve wanted to say no to a superior, but what held you back was fear of the outcomes.

Here’s how to sell the “no.”

Know your boundaries


Chinese military general and philosopher Sun Tzu said, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”. In the business world, the best “no” is the one you don’t have to say.

But, any time you turn someone down, you have to manage certain issues. You might hurt someone’s feelings. Your superior may think you are not a team player, a associate might think less of you. But what if the person asks you to do work that clearly is not your obligation? It would be extra work for you and you don’t have the time. So, you want to say no because your time is not limitless.

As Sun Tzu recommends, the best no is the one you don’t have to say. When the work that’s requested is clearly beyond the scope of what you do, ask your superior, “Why are you asking me to do this job?” Pay attention to the tone of your voice. You do not want to sound like you are blaming the other person. You simply should be asking for information.

There may actually be a justifiable reason why the person is asking you to do that. Perhaps a superior wants you to increase you knowledge and experience that would prepare you for a job promotion.

On the other hand the person may not have a good reason. You may find out the reason you were asked is because you’re a nice person who often takes on additional obligations and does them well. Nice persons often get taken advantage of in business. You can then say, “It sounds like I’m not the best person for this task,” if you determine that you should not have been asked in the first place. You do not have to say no directly to make your point.

Talk about fairness

Another way to say no is to re-prioritize the tasks you have.


Let’s say you’re asked to do extra work that takes you away from your selling, and you’re stressing over having to meet your sales goals and completing the additional work the way it should be done. My superior requested from me to provide business planning support to management one day a week in addition to working my sales region. My sales goals weren’t reduced 20 percent to account for my time away from my business. I managed to do both jobs, but the stress was too big. Even though the new task was not hard,  it was too much because I felt like they take advantage of me.

So I scheduled a meeting with my manager where I explained him my situation. I said that I was doing my sales job, but with 20 percent less time, and my quota hadn’t been adjusted 20 percent less. I asked, “What do you think is a fair way to address my situation?” By focusing on what was fair and asking rather than telling, we had a conversation.

When you tell management “no,” it’s better to have a conversation and not make threats or get emotional. And I certainly could not say, especially being female, that I felt taken advantage of.

Since my manager needed my sales numbers more than he needed my business planning report, he stopped pulling me out of my region to do his work. He probably didn’t realized that he was placing not justifiable weight on me.

Ask about time

I could have framed my conversation with my manager from the point of view of time. There is just that much time in a workday. I could have said to my superior, “I’m managing a sales region and working on business planning. Which tasks do you want to take away from me so that I can manage my region and do the business planning?” It would have been his decision to hire another salesperson or decrease the time to work on business planning.

Simply know that you can always say, “I need to check my calendar and get back with you”–even though it only delays the answer. At some point you must learn a firm and polite approach to say no and be protective of your time.