Sales professionals continually strive to lead prospects to saying yes. And, when yes turns out not to be an option, it's easy to think that receiving a lukewarm maybe is better than a decisive no. This is especially true for those just starting out as merchant level salespeople (MLSs). However, while a maybe might be a little easier on the ears and ego than a no, in the long run, maybe is an empty placeholder that leaves MLSs hanging.
In Good SellingSM: Thirteen Weeks to Professional Success, Paul H. Green, founder of The Green Sheet, went so far as to state, that maybe is never the right outcome. "Yes is fine, and no is fine – no will tell things you need to know, even if you don't get the account," he wrote. "Maybe is always the wrong answer. Press on!"
And he's not alone. The motto of Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz, founders of Go For No, and authors of a book of the same name, is "Yes is the destination; no is how you get there." About their work, they stated, "The relationship you have with the word NO … what you think and feel when you hear it, and what you do afterward as a result … is THE single most important factor in determining the level of success you will achieve in your life. That's why despite having a great product, service or opportunity to offer, so many people fail to succeed in business … and in life."
They went on to say it doesn't have to be that way. "A simple change in attitude and perspective could transform you from someone who is slowed down by failure and rejection into someone who is actually energized by it," they added.
In "Let merchants say no to you," The Green Sheet, Nov. 25, 2013, issue 13:11:02, Jeff Fortney stated that even the best salespeople have chased a few maybes in their time. "However, accomplished agents know that chasing maybes costs time that could be spent on real deals," he wrote. "They realize that maybe really means no."
Fortney went on to say that MLSs can learn to avoid maybes. "When a merchant responds with a maybe statement, rather than agree immediately to the request for delay, give the prospect permission to say no," he wrote, adding that sometimes all it takes is letting the merchant know your feelings won't be hurt if the merchant declines your offer.
Fortney added that merchants will often open up at this point, and with a little thoughtful probing it's possible to find out why the merchant turned down your offer. "Many rejections are filled with lessons that may make the next no a yes," he noted.
Also, after a rejection, move on quickly but not immediately. Reflect on why you sought this opportunity, what factors led to the merchant's decision, and what pain points you missed, so you can improve the likelihood you'll get to yes the next time.
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