“No” is a Good Answer!

Being in sales, I like to get together every month with a local group of fellow sales professionals. It gives us the chance to share successes, ideas, war-stories and helps keeps us focused and positive.

Last week at one of our monthly lunch meetings, a group member mentioned that he has been in sales negotiations with one of his prospects for several months.  After numerous meetings and phone calls, the prospect is still “hee-hawing” around.  He keeps dragging him on, telling him “perhaps” or “maybe” and “why don’t you check in with me in a couple weeks.”

Several in the group mentioned that it was a stall tactic and the sales person hadn’t done a good job answering all the key objections.  Others in the group questioned if this guy was the correct decision maker.  Others mentioned it may be timing or financial issue. One person in our group mentioned that perhaps the guy is too nice to tell him no, he isn’t interested.

That comment reminded me of an Al McGuire story I read in Dick Enberg’s autobiography entitled, Oh My! that I shared with the group.

Checking into a hotel room in Champaign, IL prior to a Big Ten game between the Illini and Purdue, Al began to argue with a young female clerk at the registration desk.  Al had a lot of quirks and he preferred rooms on the first or second floor, explaining that in case of trouble you could always jump to safety.  According to the clerk, she didn’t think anything was available. She proudly announced that she had a much more elaborate room reserved especially for him on a higher floor.  But Al insisted that’s not what he wanted.  She said she’d try to talk to her superior, but he was still at lunch, that maybe he could do something or that maybe, just maybe, a room on the third floor would work.  Finally, raising his voice for emphasis, Al said, “Young lady, it’s alright to tell me ‘No’.  The answer I want is ‘Yes’; that’s the best answer. But ‘Maybe’ is driving me wacky!”

Later that evening he reviewed the experience over dinner. “Too many people are afraid to give you a ‘No’ so they give you a ‘We’ll see’ or a ‘maybe’.  That’s a bad answer.  It’s a delaying tactic.  Eventually, you’re probably going to get a ‘No’ anyway.”

“We do it to our associates, our kids, our players.  It’s a waste.  Tell ‘em ‘No’.  It’s a good answer.  It allows you to go on with your business and get a ‘Yes’ somewhere else.  ‘Maybe’ is the bad answer.  It’s like ice-fishing.  It’s insane!”

“No” is a good answer!  Not only a lesson in sales but in life as well!

Rob Trecek
Director of Business Development