Do you suffer from "Maybe-itis"?
By Landy Chase,
Health bulletin for
sales people: The dread disease Maybe-itis continues to be a major
health hazard to the careers of many in the sales profession.
Symptoms of this disease are readily apparent upon close inspection
of an individual's selling skills, and commonly include the
An inability to
get people to make a decision, resulting in a perpetual sense of
false hope in something that isn't going to happen
presentations-to-sales percentage in the range of 10% to 15%
follow-up with people who say they are "kicking it around"
and anxiety over the impact on sales performance
An income not
representative of the time and effort being expended
If left untreated,
Maybe-itis can be lethal to the career of a sales person. How does
one expunge oneself this dread affliction?
You already know that
most buying decisions are not made immediately after your
presentation. Most people will not make an on-the-spot decision,
period. This is not an attempt to ruin your day, it is simply human
nature, and it manifests itself in a number of ways. Some people
will tell you that they need time to "think it over", and others
will need to "run the proposal by a partner", or want to "study it",
or "sleep on it", or whatever. Contrary to what you might have
learned at the last "don't take no for an answer" sales seminar,
they have every right to do this, and attempting to push them to act
immediately is a bad idea. I know that some of you may have been
told otherwise, but practically speaking, high-pressure gimmicks are
not only a waste of time, they are unprofessional and unnecessary.
At the same time, however, getting up and leaving without getting
closure is the worst thing that you can do - because it often causes
a long-term case of Maybe-itis. What's a good sales person to do?
Whenever you are
faced with a situation where the decision is not going to be made
immediately, the first step is always to immediately establish a
firm deadline for a decision. You have every right to do this. The
best approach is to ask the buyer how much time they need to make a
decision, and then offer a deadline
Buyer: "We need some
time to think this over".
You: "That’s fine.
How much time do you require; is a week from today adequate?"
Buyer: "Yes, a week
from today would be fine."
What does this do for
you? Simply stated, it draws a line in the sand for the decision -
yes or no - to be made. It also stops "maybe" dead in its tracks.
Now that you have an
agreed upon date for the decision, the next step is to verify that
there are no other outstanding issues. This is critical, because it
allows you to ensure that the decision itself is the only thing left
on the table. This is simply done as follows:
You: "Do you have
everything you need at this point to make a decision?"
Buyer: "Yes, you've
been very helpful."
Now that you have (1)
agreed upon a date for the decision, and (2) agreed that all of the
buyer's questions have been answered, move to the third and final
step. Ask for a tentative commitment to move forward, while
respecting their need to "think it over". This should be presented
that you need a week to arrive at your decision,
what is the likelihood of us doing business together,
based on what you've seen at this point?
client will answer this question in one of two ways - and this will
tell you, with a high level of accuracy, whether or not you are
going to be doing business together. Let’s look at the ramifications
The first response
we'll look at is the response you want here, which is what I call a
"conditional yes" - a verbal commitment that they want to
move forward pending the "think it over" step, whatever that step
For example: “I plan
to move forward with you. I just need to _________." Some of you may
think that 'buyers are liars'. You may be thinking, "Oh, they'll
just say that to get you out of their office". My experience has
been otherwise. A response like this indicates, in my experience,
that you have a high likelihood - about 75% - that you will be doing
business together, this is because the buyer, upon your request, is
indicating the direction they are leaning with regard to your
This is the type of
situation where good follow-up is critical and well-worth your time.
Immediately after this meeting, send the person a thank you in the
mail. Include in your thank-you note this statement: "I would also
like to thank you for your commitment to make a prompt business
decision. I really appreciate it!"
Now, let’s take a
look at what you don't want to hear. The response that you don't
want to the commitment request is - anything else! The most common
example is the following:
"Well, give me a call
in a week, and we'll let you know."
asked for a commitment and didn't get one! There is something here
that is keeping your sale from moving forward. At least you know!
Try asking "what concerns you at this point?" and see if you can get
the remaining issues on the table. And if you can't - get over it!
For whatever reason, you weren't able to convince this person to do
business with you. Politely end the meeting and gear up for another
Follow-up here is
brief, as well. Give this person one follow up phone call. (You will
almost always get their voice mail). Say, "I was following up on my
proposal to see if you had made a decision. Please call me when
you're ready to proceed. Thank you!" Click! End of follow up. Why?
Because if they are going to do business with you, they'll call you,
that’s why! And if they are not, you won't hear back from them. This
frees you up to pursue other, quality opportunities.
You see, learning to
love the word "no" is an important step to good time management.
"No" means "closure". "No" is permission to get on with other
opportunities. "No is a green light to refocus on productive tasks,
while discarding this unproductive one.” “No" is a step forward - a
move in the right direction. "No" means permission to get over it,
and get on with your life. Getting to "No" is a superb
As the great
sales trainer Tom Hopkins used to say, if you get one 'yes' for
every thirteen 'no's', then every 'no' that you get is one less 'no'
you have to deal with until you get to the next 'yes.' Sounds like a
cure for “maybe-it is” might be within your reach, after all.
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