Acknowledge the “no” and other sales email tips to book more meetings

Posted June 22, 2017

Chelsey feldman headshot

By Chelsey Feldman

Product Marketing at Outreach

It’s the most universal experience of a sales rep: hearing the word "no." Every day, my SDRs face countless rejection notes. As a sales manager, it’s my job to help them turn the situation around by engaging their grit.

Here’s how my team has leveraged that experience - and the sales email tracking data from tens of thousands of outbound sales emails - to figure out the most impactful ways to turn rejection into an opportunity.

The key to maneuvering this situation is to acknowledge the prospect's response and then respond appropriately to the specific message they sent you while continuing to show your value. I use a few key principles when coaching my SDRs on how to respond to a "No" or a "Not interested" reply. Find these helpful sales email tips below:

  1. Acknowledge that your prospect has rejected your initial offer. It's important for them to know that you've read their email and are attentive to their needs.
  2. Show them you're human. It's easy to reject a robot, but harder once you've built a connection.
  3. Show you have their best interests at heart. You're here to help, not just to make some quick $$$.
  4. Acknowledge you might have made a mistake by reaching out to the wrong person, and provide an actionable step by asking for the correct contact. Every human makes mistakes!

Here are four common rejection notes along with tried and tested sales email responses we use at Outreach that help us flip the script and turn rejection into meetings (or at least keep the dialogue open). Feel free to use these in your own replies.

From “not interested” to a sales email reply 39% of the time

What to say:

Hi (Name),

Thank you for your response...I'm just curious–we are both in sales here and I know you have gotten the "I'm not interested" response at some point in your career and your first reaction to that statement is something like "you don't even know what I sell." Would you be so kind as to just tell me why you are not interested so I can learn a little more about your company?



Why it works:

This template has a 39% response rate across over 400 deliveries! It's not anything flashy - just a simple and upfront way to humanize the connection you're building with your prospect and open up a dialogue. At the very least, your prospect will respond back with the reasons they didn’t think your product would be a fit, which is valuable feedback to help you personalize your outreach to other prospects in that account.

Asking for advice helps bring out the best in people. It's human nature to want to help others. In my team's experience, this response has opened up enough dialogue to turn a "not interested" into a meeting.

Keep in mind that this is not the best response to someone responding “not interested” if they actually put thought into their response. However, it is a good response for those one liner “not interested” emails that the prospect took three seconds to write.

Turning an “I'm not in the market” reply into a 28% response rate

What to say:


When people say they're not in the market, it's like music to my ears. Since you're not under pressure to buy from a Board of Directors or upper management, it's the perfect time to look at new technology because you can more thoroughly evaluate a tool and only move forward if it's something that could add real value to your team.

Based on what I know about your company, (Name), I think you would see a high ROI from adding Outreach to your tool stack. I'd love a chance to get a few minutes for a quick phone call to explore more about your sales process and properly explain what it is that we do and how we do it. Then, you can make the call if it makes sense for us to continue the conversation.

When is the best time to get a few minutes on your calendar?


Why it works:

This template gets a 28% response rate. It works because you are acknowledging their response right out of the gate, but you then flip their response from a negative to a positive opportunity. You’ll notice that, much like the first template, this response works to disarm your prospect. While the first template makes you seem more human, this template suggests that "not being in the market” is actually an amazing opportunity to make a thoughtful business decision with no time pressure.

Level up: Make this note even more impactful by adding personalized context about your prospect's company in the first line of the second paragraph. If your knowledge is limited, then the above template still works.  

A thoughtful "not interested" or “not the right person” sales email response

What to say:


Thank you for letting me know, otherwise I would have kept trying to contact you.

Usually I'm looking to connect with a sales leader/manager looking to help their reps hit quota/revenue goals, or sales ops/enablement managers looking to improve efficiency for their sales teams. Do you happen to know who the right person for me to speak with would be?

I'm just looking for a few minutes of their time to learn about your sales team and to see if we could possibly help each other.



Why it works:

This template works because it helps give the prospect context of what you are looking for while also establishing the value you could bring to the right person in their organization.

Format it this way:

  1. Acknowledge the “no”
  2. Give more context on what you are looking for and what value your request has to the company
  3. Request to be pointed in the right direction.

This is a non-aggressive email with no push back whatsoever, just a soft response looking to be guided in the right direction. What's key is that you still provide a clear call to action. Many prospects will read this note and either tell you to check on LinkedIn or will provide a helpful point of contact for you. There is nothing to lose with a reply like this one.

A short, sweet, and action-oriented reply to an uninterested prospect

What to say:

Hey (Name),

Thanks for your honest response. Who would the right person be for me to reach out to?


Why it works:

Sometimes simplicity is key. Acknowledge that you might have contacted the wrong person, and ask where to go next. No harm, no foul.

We’ve all heard the stat people need to hear something seven times before they remember it- I for one have heard that stat quoted about seventeen hundred times. It’s wrong. Or precisely, it’s outdated: that stat was coined in the film industry in the 1930’s and referred to the amount of times an advertisement had to play for people to get people to go see their movie in the theater. But it’s 2017. What’s a movie theater?

Seriously though, this stat was coined way before social media, so it grossly underestimates the explosion of messages people today receive. You will most likely have to contact people way more than seven times, and make each response count. But how do you do it? Sales reps fail because they don't know what to do with rejection. They give up too fast. It’s the job of sales managers to help them turn that around.

In sales, we all know that the initial "No" is really the beginning of an opportunity rather than the end of a conversation. What messages have helped you keep the dialogue open after a prospect tells you they're not interested?


Read more

Discover the Sales Execution Platform
See how Outreach helps sellers close over 2 million opportunities every month.