Never Take No From Someone Who Can’t Say Yes
By JoAn Majors
By JoAn Majors
When it comes to making a proposal or pitch to deliver your product or service to a prospect, remember that the question is not just the answer; the question is the cure. Whether you are presenting vending services to a corporation, coffee products to an office or a plastic packaging system to a food manufacturer, keep in mind that the one asking the question actually controls the conversation. So find out early if the person you are speaking with can actually make the decision to purchase the product or service you seek to provide.
When it comes to making a proposal or pitch to deliver your product or
service to a prospect, remember that the question is not just the
answer; the question is the cure. Whether you are presenting vending
services to a corporation, coffee products to an office or a plastic
packaging system to a food manufacturer, keep in mind that the one
asking the question actually controls the conversation. So find out
early if the person you are speaking with can actually make the
decision to purchase the product or service you seek to provide.
Many people simply cannot make a definite choice on their own.
Decision-making is not something they can do solo; they must go to
someone else – a partner, manager or someone higher up in the company –
in order to make up their own minds.
Rather than dismissing such prospects as immature or irresponsible or a
colossal waste of your time, understand that your judgment is getting
in the way of providing them with what they need. Instead, treat these
customers with a greater degree of care as they are no doubt already
uncertain, possibly insecure and maybe in a little over their heads.
It’s very likely that discussions about proposals that cost a lot of
money or time are not their favourite conversations.
In this increasingly complex world, many businesses, as well as
families, couples, and even individuals, practice a division of labour,
especially where purchasing goods and services is concerned, and
particularly when money is tight and times are tough.
Let’s imagine such a scenario. Albert, your prospect, has been
listening to the options you have outlined and now says one of three
- “I need to think about it.”
- “I’ll have to talk to my manager about that.”
- “That’s awfully expensive (or time consuming). I can’t make that kind of decision independently.”
In the first case, Albert has elected to share very little information.
Instead of meeting his defensiveness with your own defensive thought,
“So what does he need to think about?,” understand that he is actually
telling you a great deal, namely that he’s too uncomfortable to share
the actual objection or that there may be a third party involved.
That’s a tip-off to you that a greater degree of trust is necessary
before any disclosure about the real issue can take place.
In the second case, Albert is revealing his dilemma and not just
brushing you off, so don’t brush off his remark. Although you have
spent plenty of time getting to know him and his business and
presenting your information in his style, it’s now time to find out
more about his manager.
In the third case, an actual objection is stated: it’s expensive (or
time consuming) – and Albert tells you he needs help with the decision.
Knowing the objection and that another person is involved in the
decision makes it a great deal easier to proceed.
In all three cases, your concern is how to encourage the person not
present to consider your proposal. Your job is to give Albert – your
walking, talking marketing tool – the opportunity to send a beneficial
and acceptable message to the person who in fact may make the final
decision. So what do you say?
“In addition to you, is there anyone else who might influence the decision?” Or:
“Besides you, is there anyone who might also be interested in the proposal we’re discussing?”
Please take note: neither question demeans Albert, exploits his
indecision or forces his hand in any way. Your neutrality assumes a
simple reality that someone else might be involved. It’s a natural
outcome of the conversation expressed with curiosity. What might the
“Yes, my stockholders (or accountant, lawyer, financial advisor).”
Your response might be:
“What might his or her concerns about this proposal be?” Or: “What is
it that your manager (or stockholders, etc.) might want to know about
this product or service?”
Sometimes it’s price or payment plan or return on investment; sometimes
it’s function or longevity. You can never know until you find out more,
and you can only find out more by asking with care, concern, respect
It is quite a time saver if you can ask this at the beginning of the
phone interview or initial visit, particularly if the product or
service is relatively new or its value is still not common knowledge.
Realize that the more information you can find out about your
prospect’s concerns and objections, the more material you will have at
your disposal. The art of persuasion is nothing more than building a
roadmap that establishes value and integrity to the product or service
and results in what we call “destination known.”
This simple communication skill can change those folks who drive us
nuts because they just cannot decide. Many individuals simply can never
say yes to anything. Should that stop them from benefiting from your
excellence and getting what they actually came to you for? Structure
your presentation or pitch so that you make it easy for the indecisive
ones to do what you want them to do and hard for them to do what you
don’t want them to do.
Making it easy for them to get what they need means involving the
decision-maker in a respectful and encouraging way. When it comes to
getting a prospect’s concerns out in the open and knowing the
decision-makers, don’t be afraid to ask!
JoAn Majors is a professional speaker and member of the National
Speakers Association and the Global Speakers Network, a two-time
business founder and a three-time author. For more on her seminars and
her latest book, “Encouragementors: 16 Attitude Steps for Building Your
Business, Family & Future,” visit www.joanmajors.com.