Tag Archives: business tips

Fifty Shades of Nay

chains_wordsIn sales, we get used to getting a lot of noes, but as a trainer of sales professionals, managers, and teams it isn’t the noes that we get that concerns me.

In fact, it’s all the noes that we don’t get because prospect—whether consciously or unconsciously—decides to give us a non-answer that lies somewhere in that hazy grey area, a.k.a. Fifty Shades of Nay.

  1. “I gotta think about it”
    The no that makes us think they really are considering giving us a yes.
  2. “We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing”
    The no that makes us think they seriously did consider giving us a yes.
  3. “I’ll run it up the flag pole”
    The no that tricks us into thinking they are going to bat for us.
  4. “Lemme get back to you”
    The no that makes us think we are a serious contender.
  5. “The timing just isn’t right”
    The no that makes us think it’s not us, it’s them.
  6. “I’m a ways out”
    The no that makes us think we have a chance.
  7. “I’ve been too busy to take a look at that”
    The no that makes us think that we may have a chance.
  8. [crickets]
    The no that makes us wonder at what point we stopped having any chance at all.
  9. “It keeps getting put on the back burner”
    The no that makes us think that the prospect is busier than we are.
  10. “Your pitch was great, probably the best we’ve ever seen, but…”
    The no that makes us feel good about ourself.
  11. “It looks really great, but…”
    The no that makes us feel good about our product or service.
  12. “Mr. So-and-so is in a meeting”
    The no that makes us feel like we are being persistent—in a good way.
  13. “Corporate isn’t cooperating”
    The no that gives us someone else to blame.
  14. “It’s too bad you can’t beat our current pricing”
    The no that makes us mad at our company’s pricing structure.
  15. “It’s not in the budget this year”
    The no that creates more work for us by putting a useless fact in the CRM.
  16. “We haven’t set our budget yet for next year”
    The no that gives us more hope and useless information—a dangerous combo.
  17. [See #15]
    The no that frustrates us because we thought we caught them in time this year; oh well, we will try again next year.
  18. “I’m good, thanks”
    The no that convinces us they are fine because, well, we do the same thing to the door-to-door guy.
  19. “I’ll call you if I change my mind”
    The no that makes us craft really *memorable* voicemail greetings because this time they probably will call.
  20. “We’re covered”
    The no that makes us try to show them how they aren’t indeed covered as well as they would be, if we could just convince them.
  21. “Got a website I can look at?”
    The no that makes us hound IT for a snappier www; and my contact info better be on it!
  22. “Can you just send me the information?”
    The no that makes us intentionally ignore the obvious irony that we throw out so much junk mail.
  23. “You aren’t working with anyone in our industry…”
    The no that gives us tunnel vision for who we should be calling.
  24. “You are working with too many of our competitors…”
    The no that convinces us we shouldn’t serve too many competitors or our current clients will get mad.
  25. “I know where to find you if anything changes”
    The no than makes us email them our contact information 17 times.
  26. “Can you check back in a month?”
    The no that makes us jump.
  27. “Can you check back next quarter?”
    The no that makes us dance.
  28. “Can you check back next year”
    The no that makes us sing.
  29. “We are about to be going through some internal changes”
    The no that makes us blame the company for not having their sh** together.
  30. “We just went through some major changes”
    The no that makes us blame the company for really not having their sh** together.
  31. “I’m new to the department”
    The no that makes us wish he wasn’t.
  32. “The board is being difficult”
    The no that makes us hate boards of directors.
  33. “Really wish I could, but…”
    The no that makes us wish the prospect could grow a spine.
  34. “Summer is not a good time”
    The no that makes us curse the summer solstice.
  35. “Back to school is not a good time”
    The no that makes us wish the USA had year-round-school.
  36. “The holidays are just not a good time”
    The no that makes us turn into Scrooge.
  37. “Business is too slow, we are thinking of laying people off”
    The no that makes us have lots of empathy—too much empathy—for the prospect.
  38. “All of our people are wearing too many hats right now”
    The no that confuses us; wait, doesn’t that mean you have lots of money to spend with me?
  39. “I just don’t know how to make it work”
    The no that makes us want to call the prospect an idiot and shake him until he sees how easy we will make it for him.
  40. “We don’t want to make any changes right now”
    The no that makes us shake our collective heads wishing they could see how desparately they need to change.
  41. “We are definitely going to look at this again sometime in the future”
    The no that excites us thinking about our future, imaginable, mythical commission check.
  42. “I really wish I could but I can’t”
    The no that makes us wish our prospects knew how to stand up for what they believe in.
  43. “I can’t justify the expense”
    The no that makes us scream “you can afford not to, you a**hat”
  44. “If only you could meet our current vendor’s [terms, pricing, delivery, etc.] this would be perfect”
    The no that makes us dance like a monkey at the circus.
  45. “There’s just too many chefs in the kitchen”
    The clichéd no that makes us wonder what they really mean.
  46. “Too many irons in the fire”
    The other clichéd no that makes us wonder what they really mean.
  47. “We have too many chiefs, not enough Indians”
    The other, other clichéd no that makes us wonder what they really mean.
  48. “You were a close second, almost tied, really”
    The no that makes us pat ourselves on the back because we’ll get ‘em next time.
  49. “If it were up to me, I would have picked you”
    The no that makes us pat ourselves on the back because maybe they’ll come around.
  50. “I’ll see what I can do”
    The no that makes us pat ourselves on the back because we really believe they are working on it.

Have you experienced any of these before? Have you experienced getting your hopes up, getting your dreams dashed, and getting frustrated with the prospect? When we create the environment that accepts these shades of nay as possible outcomes of a selling situation, we are setting ourselves—and the prospect—up for long drawn out selling cycles, painful prospecting, and getting into a tug-o’-war over price and terms.

If you are getting any of these shades of nay, my hope is you will understand you are really getting a no. A slow and painful no, but a no nevertheless.

This situation we find ourselves in, as sales professionals, is often one of dysfunction, and unequal stature. The prospect has us wound tightly around his finger so long as he wants information from us but as soon as it comes time to make a decision, we get a murky, evasion tactic masquerading as hope in the future.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Fill out the contact form here to learn how you can break away from getting shades of nay and lock down actual yeses or noes from your prospects.

What other shades of nay have you experienced?

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Social Media Posting Guidelines

Social Media Posting Guidelines (9) copyThe other day I got to thinking how I really want to implement some guidelines into my personal social media posting. Mind you, this is the regarding the accounts I use for my friends and family, not what I use for my professional marketing. But nonetheless, if you have a public persona, or if you are serving on a board of directors, or if you generally need to be respected in the community at large, deciding what light in which you want to be seen has a lot to do with what type of curtains you choose to hang.

Years back, I was at a conference and the keynote speaker was Amy Henry, of The Apprentice (season one) fame. The theme of her talk was around the fact that the camera is always on, and someone could always be watching. She talked about how some of her contemporaries claimed they were “unfairly edited” and yet, even if there was editing involved, those individuals chose to provide that content.

Her remarks struck a chord with me then but it’s all the more relevant now that everyone has the potential to have the camera on them 24-7, not just celebrities.

In light of the most recent of far too many situations to count, a congressional aide (forcibly?) apologized for what she said about the president’s daughters. What’s interesting is that there’s been very little attention given to whether or not her claims have merit. It’s really been more about the fact that in her position she is vulnerable to scrutiny and some decided that they would criticize her based on remarks.

Similarly, many of us are judged at different points in our lives, sometimes during the job hunt, other times when a client is deciding if partnering with us supports or undermines his values. The world—much less our individual market places—is now very small. And it is up to us which windows we want to let people look in, and which we want to keep covered up. Certainly, this isn’t fair but such is the double-edged sword of connectivity.

This isn’t to say we can’t have minds of our own or humoristic styles, but it is to ensure that we are proactively deciding what is public and what is private. A comedian will have a vastly different set of filters than an elementary school teacher; the idea that we choose a proactive-posting approach rather than a reactive posting approach. And the degree to which we have something to lose is the degree to which we need to be conscious about what we put out there for the world to see.

Here are the guidelines that I felt represent my values and respect both my profession and my clients.

  1. Does it generally feel positive?
  2. Is it something that even people who disagreed with the stance could still feel good about reading?
  3. Is it unifying rather than divisive?
  4. If someone who didn’t know me saw it, would I be proud of the representation?
  5. Would I say it in front of my grandmother, my priest, my daughter, and my client?

My social media guidelines ensure that what not matter what I say, even if it is opinion-based, I won’t be apologizing for it next week.

What guidelines might be important for you to implement? Have you thought about having this conversation with employees? If so, what have been the results?

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In the Know

It’s amazing how telling people why you did something a certain way—or why you need something done—does so much to diffuse resistance and resentment.

My favorite coffee shop switched from paper towel to an air dryer in their rest rooms—not a big deal to the average patron, I know, but I suppose I am not an average patron. I hate air dryers. They take longer. I’ve read they breed more bacteria, so they gross me out. My hands never really feel dry. They take longer. And I hate them. (See what I mean?)

As I waited for my cup of tea, the manager and I were chit-chatting about their technology upgrades and I took the opportunity to casually mention that I didn’t like the Paper Towel-gate 2014.

When he told me why—that their downtown establishment had problems with people using the restrooms to bathe and then clogging the toilets with wads of paper towel which was then leading to needing a plumber on a weekly basis—I could empathize with the sound business decision.

He even went on to say that they don’t mind the bathing component. They weren’t angry with the people causing the problem (as they, too, could empathize with the homeless, or waterless population and were here to welcome all in the community). He added that they made attempts to unclog it themselves and when that didn’t work they considered locking the bathrooms and needing an entrance code (which would be a different kind of inconvenience for patrons).

By the end of our three minute conversation, I was on his side. I would have made the same decision if in his shoes. And ultimately, I was rooting for this coffee shop to succeed. I was now Team Air Dryers.

There are a few takeaways that I learned from Paper Towel-gate:

Keep your patrons in the loop when you make changes—even if said changes seem insignificant. Your best customers may offers insights or other alternatives that weren’t considered. You may find they support you even more.

If possible, confide in them the fact that you considered other options. When he mentioned what else they had contemplated and even attempted, I realized that this really was the lesser of evils. Again, this helped diffuse any frustration or resentment I had because I concurred that the other avenues were even more cumbersome. Your best customers—the ones that are the 20 percent who bring you 80 percent of your business—they want you to win. If this change helps you win better, they will likely support your decisions that lead to your success.

Tell your story, your “why”. In this case their “why” was the fact that they didn’t want to eliminate the option to wash up or punish the people who were washing up in their restrooms—man, I love that about this place—but rather eliminate the costly and hassle-laden occurrence of needing a plumber weekly. You may find your customers like you even more when your “why” aligns with your core values and theirs.

It doesn’t have to be a saga. A three minute conversation was all it took. But it could be a public note. Or a blog or status update on social media. Or an op-ed. But find a way to communicate with your customers (preferably in the way that is relevant to them).

Doing these things helps your customers feel like part of the team; like they aren’t just customers anymore, they are friends, they are family, they are your people. And when we are friends, family, and community, we keep each other in the know.

P.S. These same principles apply if you are a boss making a change.

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