“Yes. It’s a sale!” he tells me.
I smile, pause, and tell him: “It’s not a sale until the money is there” – and he replies: “True, of course – you’re right”.
He continues to tell me that he’s decided in favour of my proposal though, and he wants my help.
In the end, it didn’t happen – it wasn’t the right moment for his business… and obviously, that’s fine by me. I’d never want anyone’s business unless it’s 100% the perfect moment for them.
But that moment, when a potential client tells you yes: that’s where it can go wrong SO easily.
When we hear a yes, we’re thrilled: a new client, new project, money coming your way… whoohoo!
Ah, yes. But there’s a difference between saying yes, and doing yes.
And if we as a provider confuse the two, we can easily screw up a sale.
If we get all excited and cheery, and ask for a credit card number right then and there, all kinds of things can go wrong. The buyer could sense neediness, or they might feel you’re moving too fast – too much, too soon – or they might need to address a few things before proceeding. Can be anything.
Of course when a client sends you money, or signs an actual contract, then yes: of course you should cheer. You’ve just landed a client, and you’ve got the payment to show for it, so by all means: buy yourself shoes or champagne or whatever spells ‘reward’ for you.
But very often, at the moment that someone says yes, your best reaction is to slow down, and actually question the yes.
“I’m happy to hear it, but before we move forward, let’s look at this again.
“Are you 100% certain that this offer, in this configuration, at this time, is what you need?
“Is there anything that would make it a no? Because it’s really important that you make this decision 100% convinced, all in – so whatever issue or doubt you’d like to address, this is a good time to do it”.
When you question a yes, several things happen.
For one thing, a buyer will reconsider their motivation, and often reinforce their choice.
Also: they’ll often raise issues that haven’t been addressed properly yet, which also helps them reinforce their decision.
Or, obviously, it might cause them to change their mind – which might be disappointing for you, but ultimately it’s in your (not to mention their!) best interest.
Because when you demonstrate clearly that you’re ok with a no, especially after they’ve said yes, you show that you’re not in it for your own sake, but that the only goal you have, is for them to make the right decision.
And that goes a long long way in building trust, which increases your chances of landing the client later on down the line.
Of course you can consider it odd, that I reacted that way. I admit it was ballsy, possibly even arrogant, and it’s not something I’d recommend you generally say.
Then again, this gentleman was a very seasoned business owner, a very skilled seller, and equipped with an excellent sense of humour, and someone I’d known socially long before we had that sales conversation – in other words, I knew who I was talking to.
Anyway, question the yes. Making a purchase is never a small thing, and you want people to be 100% ready and convinced they’re making the right choice.
It’s the right thing to do, and it’s the best thing for your bottom line as well.
Btw: finding your own, natural, maybe even humourful to have easy and fun sales conversations is one of the things I help clients with. You know, in case that’s something you’d like to learn for yourself…