Why Customers Say No?

6 min readAug 15, 2020


Among usage, value, risk, tradition, image, which one do you think is the most common customer barrier?

Wouldn’t it be really helpful if companies can figure out the reasons behind customers turning away from their products? Definitely, YES! Remember Harry Potter’s invisible cloak? The one that allowed him to peep through Hogwarts without being seen and also know what everyone was talking about him in the dorms.

Understanding “why customers say no” is a peculiar question that makes it extremely difficult for business owners to find out what exactly they can do to convert their behaviour towards their products/services. Marcus Powe shed light at Ylemer’s “Inspire, We Inspire” Global Entrepreneurs Online Roundtable on the 11th of August 2020 on this topic.

Marcus comes with immense exposure in multiple sides of the entrepreneurial journey be it manufacturers of scientific instruments, medical devices, textiles to tourism aviation and now predominantly education. He is a member of different boards of start-ups and businesses with social impact in the Philippines and Hawaii, a trained negotiator and owns a company called EIC Growth Pty Ltd to assist CEO’s and leaders implement, embed and measure creativity and innovation systems that result in enterprising behaviours. Here are the highlights to know more about the event:

What kind of problems that companies have to face as an evident factor that influences customers decisions in saying yes before buying a product? Marcus started off by sharing a list of factors working with multiple companies from different industries:

External Pressures

Accelerating rates of change

Marcus observes that most of the people don’t like change, they can’t cope with change, but they don’t admit it. How do you diffuse it or slow it down, so you can get the same frequency in the conversation? He emphasized that connecting with your customers is the most important aspect before you can really seal the deal.

Very often in meetings with potential clients, Marcus usually ask “how are you?” at the very beginning and from there, he can find out if the person has the ability to stay within his conversation. If their head is somewhere else, you just can’t be with them on the same level of frequency.

Many salespersons have the mistakes of only talking about their products and not in tune with the customers, that’s why they fail to connect and facilitate change in them.

Increasing levels of competition

The current situation with the Coronavirus pandemic, it is becoming extremely difficult for businesses to sustain themselves, many of the businesses are under threat or have shut down due to the virus. So, we need to think about how to reduce the margin of failure.

Globalization of business competition

There are no boundaries to businesses in today’s time. Look at how China has become the major exporter of goods across the world without having to set up its manufacturing units in multiple countries. Globalization is powerful and to cope with it companies must understand not only their local competitors but also international counterparts.

Rapid technological change

We see a massive shift to how we use technology these days. There’s so much of dependence on devices and multiple applications that it becomes problematic when we do not use them. For every problem, there is a separate technological solution and without using it we tend to get stuck in the process.

Technological discontinuity

Imagine going back to using telephones and forget about Zoom. What? Constant changes in technology become quite a hassle to keep yourself up and running with all the changes taking around you. You have to be updated regarding everything that changes in the name of technology to keep yourself at the same pace.

A more diverse workforce

Diversity does not necessarily mean less gender gap but it’s all elements that could possibly hinder the chances of a having a diverse workforce. Marcus mentioned that research has shown companies that do have diversity are more in tune with different perspectives, therefore their ability to listen goes up.

Transition from industrial to a knowledge-based society

Have we really transitioned to a knowledge-based society? Well maybe, but not that smart because we are still doing the same old things and the same old mistakes.

Increasing market and economic turbulence

According to Marcus, turbulence is increasing and nationalism has become random. We can see how the entire 2020 has fallen short at the hands of a virus that’s got no obvious physical existence, but yet is so powerful that it has shaken the most developed of countries to the core.

The rise and influence of interest groups

What do you consider as a special interest group? Would it be an environmental group? Or maybe a social impact group? With so many customers in different jurisdictions, how do you manage each one?

Increasing complexity of the market

It’s quite challenging to introduce products from one culture and language to another culture and language without losing its value. So how can you simplify without deteriorating the elegance and sophistication of your offering? Well, that’s important to figure out if you don’t want to keep on losing your customers.

The Pandemic

With Covid-19 on the rise, it’s becoming extremely difficult to manage daily business operations. Marcus shared that he’s also experiencing a lockdown in Melbourne where they are not allowed to travel outside a 5km radius from their homes. Imagine how companies can manage to bring profits with conditions like that.

Marcus then shared the 5 main customer barriers which cause companies to ask why customers say no. Can you tell which barrier is the most common one?

Five customer barriers and the way to manage them


Customers are reluctant to try complex products mainly because they don’t want to spend more time in learning the product then actually start using it. From a business point of view as well, it becomes a problem to develop new innovative products that may not be compatible with current work practices. The approach is always a systems perspective, examine how the new process or product will impact on the whole company.


There’s always some confusion when talking about the value of the product. Is it only in terms of the price of the product? Ask yourself when you use a product what is it that you truly remember about it after using it. Well, it’s more than just the price, it’s actually the service that you get and the benefits offered by the company.


Risk is a sign of uncertainty often shown by customers, but how can you minimize it? The trick is to give trials and use opinion leaders. There’s a reason why brand ambassadors are usually celebrities and not a random person because customers like to follow what their favourite movie stars or maybe sportspeople are using in terms of products.


We have always done it this way, and why should we change when we are making enough profits is one such cause that prevents converting a prospect into a customer. There is always some form of resistance to new products and processes introduced. Marcus believes that any tradition must be respected, you may not agree with it or support it but giving respect changes the whole dynamic immediately.

Education also plays a vital role in eliminating ignorance. Marcus shared that innovation is achieved in small, fast steps that are achievable, measurable and repeatable and that’s the best way to change that stays.


What might people think? It’s these perceptions that are built from social taboos, stigmas associated with new technologies, or deep-seated psychological forces that may be aroused by innovation.

Stereotypical behaviours are present everywhere, according to Marcus a powerful way to change it is through symbolism. Psychology of colours is profound in building a positive image. Primary colours receive the strongest reception by humans and all the big companies are dominating themselves with primary colours to give a sense of safety.

Now coming back to the question, which one of these 5 barriers are the most common? I hope you have had your answer sorted out because I sure did mine and guess what I was right!

According to Marcus, the risk is evidently the most common barrier in customers for saying no to buy your product. Because from being proactive, we have totally become reactive in many cases and then we often wonder why so many people say no!

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Written By:

Sadia Mehfooz Khan
Chief Copywriter | Ylemer




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