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Berkshire | david.davies@sandler.com

Have you ever missed a signal that there was really never a "deal"? A silent, unspoken or politely dressed up "No."

Traditional sales training taught us, of course, "never to take 'No' for an answer."

When we hear "No', we immediately begin to flick through our mental tome of "overcoming stalls and objections". We ready ourselves to deliver the knock-out blow of a 'tired and testing' response that is 'guaranteed' to flip that 'No' into a 'Yes'.

Of course, the prospect has developed their own tome of "salesperson loses" responses designed to counter-act the effects of the traditional salespersons 'closing' technique.

The debate then rages on, both parties 'objection' wrestling furiously, until the other is exhausted.

Maybe you have heard some of the following statements at the conclusion of a sales meeting?

"I need to talk to other people."
"Send me your proposal and I will show it to my Boss."
"Leave it with me. I need to think it over."
"Call me in a month or so."
"We are definitely going to do something next year."

If you have heard any of the statements above from prospects, then keep reading to learn more about how to determine when to move on and when to continue investing time and energy in your 'deals.'

If you are out there selling, then you have undoubtedly heard these and other variations of the put off and postpone. Regardless, you have decided to close the sale no matter what. You probably have the right intention. Unfortunately, "carry on regardless" is a pretty poor approach.

Why is this a poor approach?

The responses you are receiving from them are just a polite way of saying, "No." In Sandler we call them "slow No's."

Hearing that “No” in a month's time is still the same as a “No” today. Actually, scratch that, it is far worse. You have invested emotional energy, sleepless nights, hours in 'strategy' sessions. Precious time, money and resources wasted.

The first thing you should do when you hear ‘No’ in any of its myriad forms is to ask a question.

For example: “I am sure I am missing something obvious here. Could you help me understand why you want to wait, rather than decide today on what we do next?”

If a prospect then tries to avoid giving you a straight answer, or says some form of “No” response, this tells you they aren't going to shift their position. The unspoken message is this: “I’m not willing to invest time, energy, or resources with you.”

If that is the case, then it is time for you to 'close the file.'

What you agree to do next will determine whether you are going to 'close the file' or follow the path of hope. When we follow the path of hope, we often find ourselves in limbo, nothing positive is happening, no matter what we say or do.

This doesn’t mean that every prospect request to postpone a 'deal' will result in a "No."

"Some will. Some won't. Some wait. So, what next?"

You might be catching a prospect or their company in the middle of a crisis of some kind. When faced with situations like these, we may want to agree to their request to postpone the 'deal.' However, before we agree to a postponement, we do need to establish a few ground rules:

• Who? Agree that you are the right people. You and the prospect have agreed that you (or Who?) are the right people to be talking together when the opportunity is resurrected.
• Why? Find mutual compatibility with your prospect. You and the prospect have agreed that there is a mutual fit and that there will be a future opportunity to work together.
• What? Decide that you are working on the right problem. You and the prospect have agreed that, for now, you are working together to solve the right problem.
• When? Agree the timeline. If you agree to a postponement, you and the prospect have agreed that your next meeting should be secured with an exact date and time.
• How? Don’t settle for non-committal language. Wishy-washy words from the client like “probably” or “maybe" just won’t do. They lack sincerity and won’t move the sale forward.

Too often we fall into our comfort zones and never really make anything happen. It is easy to hope that good things will happen to you, but do you really focus on making things happen?

If the conversation adheres to our rules, then agree to the postponement. In Sandler we call this a "Firm Future Contract."

Don't allow yourself to waste your precious time, resources and energy relying on hope, instead of focusing on your job of closing sales.

Stop 'smoking hopium.' Break the chain of unproductive sales behaviours.

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