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Yes, No, and Maybe

Let's discuss those positions as they relate to selling. I'll start with the following and pick it up as it goes:
  • My father told me when I was a boy that the most powerful word in our language has two letters: N O.
  • I formed a belief in later years that NO is a relationship-changing word.
  • I value NO from a customer much much more than MAYBE.
Jump in, people, but be prepared for me to wear my moderator hat. A hard hat, BTW. - by Gary A Boye
You are right...NO is a powerful word but can be used in many ways.

No not today to me is a maybe so which is better?

No I don't like this part of your proposal but if you can make changes we will talk. This is also a maybe.

No I am currently under contract but I want to talk to you later.

If you are hearing NO as the opposite of YES then that is a relationship-changer. - by MPrince
You are right...NO is a powerful word but can be used in many ways.

No not today to me is a maybe so which is better?

No I don't like this part of your proposal but if you can make changes we will talk. This is also a maybe.

No I am currently under contract but I want to talk to you later.

If you are hearing NO as the opposite of YES then that is a relationship-changer.
Terrific insight. - by Gary A Boye
Let's discuss those positions as they relate to selling. I'll start with the following and pick it up as it goes:
  • My father told me when I was a boy that the most powerful word in our language has two letters: N O.
  • I formed a belief in later years that NO is a relationship-changing word.
  • I value NO from a customer much much more than MAYBE.
Jump in, people, but be prepared for me to wear my moderator hat. A hard hat, BTW.

For me, "yes," " no" and "maybe", are like multi-colored buoys in a thick fog. Like floating markers on the water of conversation they signal to us: permission, danger and caution. Each word, a radical metamorphosis of the other, from the same species known as “Identity Control.” That is, who am I is dictated by what I want and what I want is dictated by who am I.

As sales people, it seems we go to great lengths in describing what we sell to give IT life, to generate in IT symbolic seductive power worthy of psychic investment by our prospect. For that to happen, we need hints as in the children's water game called "Marco Polo" except in this case using "yes," "no" and "maybe."

Sales people listen to all three and often tell the prospect who they really are by showing them what they really want.

OK. I got my hard hat on too just in case :) - by John Voris
Here is a thread that exposes that "level of consciousness" thing I wrote about elsewhere.

Nice contribution, John--once again. - by Gary A Boye
Here is a thread that exposes that "level of consciousness" thing I wrote about elsewhere.

Nice contribution, John--once again.
Thank you for the compliment. ;sm

Here is a true story that offers a radical view of the "levels of consciousness" generating contradictions. Since this is one of your interests, I though I would bring this to your attention.

Art has been used as prison torture in Barcelona.

In 1938 the artist Alfonse Laurencic designed and painted the interior of prison cells with: geometric abstractions, surrealistic images, of mind-altering cubes, squares, lines, spirals with color variations, that caused mental confusion and stress. The prisoners became transfixed upon walls with dizzying patterns staring for hours. The overall affect was prisoners lost their sense of resistance and became withdrawn with melancholy.

Alfonse simply reflected the earlier Cubist movement with the influence of the current sensation Salvador Dali.

Placed in a gallery it is art. Place it in a prison cell it is torture. Here, the level of consciousness directs our perspective in a way that generates a virtual reality cloaked over the "real."

Our likes and dislikes may go deeper than subjective opinion. - by John Voris
Hi Gary,

Good place to start. Like all things in sales this is subjective and is hugely influenced by hundreds of minute elements that make up life and business.
  • The words used before and after no/maybe. A way i like to explain this is by referencing the way Google sees the world. They view the topic of a web page by a few main criteria - one is the keywords on the page i.e Apple (or No/maybe) and then they check by using a process called Latent semantic index. LSI checks the words around the term apple to really find out what the page is about. The words green, red, banana, granny smith in a paragraph tell google this page is about a fruit. Computers, ipod, itunes, innovation - tell google this page is about Apple inc. Apply this is sales to read the situation around the word - not the word itself.
  • The reasons given - if any
  • The body language
  • The previous relationship with the person
  • The importance of the purchase to the person
A word never really means anything on its own. - by peter-odonoghue
A word never really means anything on its own.
Peter, thanks four your contribution. I'll comment. If we were just talking about "maybe", I could nod in some agreement. But, although "no" and "yes" are never self-contained because those answers are prefaced by a question, both those words on their own, once the question is asked, can have meaning that in some cases would have profound effect.

A big mistake in sales education, btw, is the tendency to view sales as something outside of the realm of the larger scale of human interaction. It is a cause of much failure in selling. - by Gary A Boye
Peter, thanks four your contribution. I'll comment. If we were just talking about "maybe", I could nod in some agreement. But, although "no" and "yes" are never self-contained because those answers are prefaced by a question, both those words on their own, once the question is asked, can have meaning that in some cases would have profound effect.

A big mistake in sales education, btw, is the tendency to view sales as something outside of the realm of the larger scale of human interaction. It is a cause of much failure in selling.

Gary

Firstly - I'm not quite sure is what your point is in paragraph 1? I will take a guess and assume you are saying it is not about more than the the words. If that is so then i strongly disagree. Let me demonstrate - Take an interaction with a seller and buyer who when asked if he will place the order says Yes. He then goes on to increase the emotion attached to the yes statement. The buyer then drops in some new conditions as conditions of the yes acceptance to strengthen his position. Is this just about the word yes - or no - absolutely not.

"A big mistake in sales education, btw, is the tendency to view sales as something outside of the realm of the larger scale of human interaction. It is a cause of much failure in selling."

Please can you be more specific as to what you mean here?

If it means how i read it - you are stating that sales should not be viewed as a silo but as a smaller part of human communication and life in general. If this was a dig at my response, i would point out that:
  • I clearly explained my point of view
  • I drew a metaphor that most people would understand
  • I clearly referenced the fact that this small facet of sales is subjective and must be considered within the realms of human communication

Thanks - by peter-odonoghue
Gary

Firstly - I'm not quite sure is what your point is in paragraph 1? I will take a guess and assume you are saying it is not about more than the the words. If that is so then i strongly disagree. Let me demonstrate - Take an interaction with a seller and buyer who when asked if he will place the order says Yes. He then goes on to increase the emotion attached to the yes statement. The buyer then drops in some new conditions as conditions of the yes acceptance to strengthen his position. Is this just about the word yes - or no - absolutely not.

"A big mistake in sales education, btw, is the tendency to view sales as something outside of the realm of the larger scale of human interaction. It is a cause of much failure in selling."

Please can you be more specific as to what you mean here?

If it means how i read it - you are stating that sales should not be viewed as a silo but as a smaller part of human communication and life in general. If this was a dig at my response, i would point out that:
  • I clearly explained my point of view
  • I drew a metaphor that most people would understand
  • I clearly referenced the fact that this small facet of sales is subjective and must be considered within the realms of human communication
Thanks
Peter, it's OK to "take a guess" but it's not OK to put words in my mouth.

With regard to my "point", it's contained in the last 22 words of paragraph 1. You are at the mercy of your own ability to comprehend.

Your illustration is a stretch. Here's why.

Asking a question whether he "WILL" buy is not the same as asking him to buy. It invites conditions. The correct and intrinsic question under that circumstance is a form of "Under what conditions will you buy?" That is classic and effective selling. That is NOT a yes or no question.

Now with regard to:
The buyer then drops in some new conditions as conditions of the yes acceptance to strengthen his position. Is this just about the word yes - or no - absolutely not.
...this thread is about YES, NO, and MAYBE. If you want to talk about the series of agreements needed to close a sale, you are welcome to start another topic on another thread.

With regard to my view on sales education, I'm satisfied with how I worded it.

With regard to your "Dig" comment, I don't have the slightest idea what you are talking about. I don't do "digs", and as a moderator and editor here, I don't tolerate them on the forum.

- by Gary A Boye
A big mistake in sales education, btw, gary, from my perspective is an ability to get a point across simply.

I consider myself reasonably intelligent, and have an MBA with distinction and i do not understand your points - give examples, use clearer language.

One of the biggest failures of commnicators or trainers is an attitude that says "You are at the mercy of your own ability to comprehend" --- It is not what or how you say something but how it is interpreted by the other person. Any good communicator knows this and ensures their point is deliverd with clarity, so there is no ambiguity.

My last post on this i feel. - by peter-odonoghue
A big mistake in sales education, btw, gary, from my perspective is an ability to get a point across simply.

I consider myself reasonably intelligent, and have an MBA with distinction and i do not understand your points - give examples, use clearer language.

One of the biggest failures of commnicators or trainers is an attitude that says "You are at the mercy of your own ability to comprehend" --- It is not what or how you say something but how it is interpreted by the other person. Any good communicator knows this and ensures their point is deliverd with clarity, so there is no ambiguity.

My last post on this i feel.
I know you feel it's your last post, Peter, but because you have made some pointed remarks I'm going to address them.

First:
A big mistake in sales education, btw, gary, from my perspective is an ability to get a point across simply.
What does THAT mean?

Second.
give examples, use clearer language.
That is abrasive and commandatory and a style of communication that is not welcome on this forum.

Third.
It is not what or how you say something but how it is interpreted by the other person.
You control your own interpretations as I do mine and everybody else controls theirs.

Fourth.

There was no ambiguity in my posts regardless whether you like them, understand them, deplore them, comprehend them or stick pins in them. Ambiguity and it's meaning may or may not have been taught on your path to MBAdom, but it should be understood by anyone attempting to critique someone's communication style.

If you would like to discuss the topic here, Yes, No, or Maybe--feel free. On the other hand if you're trolling for a peeing war, you are a distraction to the interesting perspectives offered by other members here on this thread. In the latter case you will not be welcome. Is that clarity enough for you? - by Gary A Boye
I have a question concerning the word no with sales. How many times must a sales person hear the word NO before it is accepted as being final? I think the majority of people in sales have heard that the buyer can say no many times prior to deciding to buy. Each new piece of information asks for a new decision from the buyer. When is a no unyielding?

What is a resolute question asking the buyer to buy to receive that yes or no without conditions?

Personally I like authorize here and we can make this a thing of the past.

Depending on the client no can mean not willing at this time. With a very small number of clients no is final. It is very rare that I hear an unbending no. When I do hear no I do my best at discovering why a no is on the table and when I find the reason the client and I address that issue and overcome the no together. However there are times I must accept from a client the no and allow that client to choose another avenue.

I have never considered maybe as viable.

I tend to have a belief that both yes or no are relationship changing words.
 
- by rich34232
A lot of stuff in that post, Rich, that raises some interesting questions and probably will invite some varying perspectives.

I would ask you to reflect and reconsider if Yes is as relationship-changing as No.

Although I am not a fan of assumptive closes, we all know that we can assume that we have the products, tools, service, etc. to offer to customers in ways that will positively effect them. The stream of consciousness there is Yes. But when we get No....... - by Gary A Boye
Gary, here is why the relationship changes with a yes. I now have a pipeline for the future and there is service after the sale starting at the point of the completed sale. There is constant follow-up in order to keep my client happy. I no longer must worry about advertising for a new client, now the advertising and marketing to this existing client is to keep and stay in front of him or her. I must keep accurate records on this client in order to communicate in the future while bring up the past as a reason to buy from me.An example would be if the client had recent surgery and when I visit in the future I must remember to ask how he or she is getting along.

Now keep in mind I am in business to consumer in the plumbing service industry. Receiving a no from a client today will not prohibit an appointment in the near future to visit with me again. I try to make a no as enjoyable and fun as a yes from a client. The no client remembers how he or she was treated and many will call back with an understanding of our pricing and value and experiencing less with the competition. Receiving a no is not permanent in our industry especially when the client is treated well and the no is not taken personally.
- by rich34232
I have a question concerning the word no with sales. How many times must a sales person hear the word NO before it is accepted as being final? I think the majority of people in sales have heard that the buyer can say no many times prior to deciding to buy. Each new piece of information asks for a new decision from the buyer. When is a no unyielding?

What is a resolute question asking the buyer to buy to receive that yes or no without conditions?

Personally I like authorize here and we can make this a thing of the past.

Depending on the client no can mean not willing at this time. With a very small number of clients no is final. It is very rare that I hear an unbending no. When I do hear no I do my best at discovering why a no is on the table and when I find the reason the client and I address that issue and overcome the no together. However there are times I must accept from a client the no and allow that client to choose another avenue.

I have never considered maybe as viable.

I tend to have a belief that both yes or no are relationship changing words.
 
Good issue; when is a "no" a real final "no"and how many do you hear before accepting the final "no"?

It is safe to say that there is no hard and fast rule because "yes," "no," and "maybe" can certainly flow in and out of any selling opportunity. Also, the linguistic sales environment is dense with known and unknown variables. That "no" or "maybe" may also be an indicator that an earlier objection had not been handled thoroughly or the prospect is concealing a personal fact.

A "maybe" for me has been: I need to talk to my wife or husband; I need to consider my finance and; Ill think about it, etc. Often this can be a "no" in disguise of course.

The seasoned pro is very good at intuiting what is what and when it happens: the first "no" can be correctly interpreted as final or it may take 5 or 6 "no's" before giving up. It's all in "reading" the prospect as you know.

Accurately assessing when a "no" is a real "no" marks the levels of sales maturity. Depending on what is being sold (intensity of perceived need), it is rare for a sales rep to not receive at least one "no."

What I mean by intensity of need is when what is being sold is a component of my desire or the subject of my desire. For example, buying a new car is the subject of my desire filled with emotions and feelings. Whereas, buying a tire for the car is a component of my desire for wanting to own the car. This makes the tire purchase a "necessity" in order to fulfill my true desire.

The car can be a luxury item for me but the tire is a utility item with almost no emotional attachment.

Nevertheless, when any of the three are final they are relationship changing at least in the moment. Even "maybe" has a lingering sense of possibility. - by John Voris
"Maybe" is a tool for holding the status quo--for whatever reason.

"No" is a word that is seldom used by prospects. They say it by choosing other words--"maybe" being one of them.

One of the reasons that the actual usage of the word "no" becomes valuable to the other person is that the burden of that usage is the relationship change that will take place--and it rests on the shoulders of the person saying it. It can be a heavy burden that favors the other person's position. That is why we hear other words in its place. Sandler knew that I'm sure although he never expressed it in that way as far as I know. Many top salespeople know that. I've known it for thirty years.

As John said in a slightly different context, "The seasoned pro is very good at intuiting what is what." - by Gary A Boye
I really am enjoying this thread. It would be real easy to hijack and take off in another direction with the other issues being brought into this conversation. What is very fascinating to me how things change in correlation to the industry?


John your maybe in my industry is normally a stall that translates into I am unwilling to pay your price at this moment. I have not driven the perceived value high enough to overtake the money in most cases. Sure there may be a couple of instances where the client must think about it or talk to their spouse such as a total home re-pipe or breaking the floor to replace the building drain. That is why maybe is not viable to me. In certain cases and a very small percentage where it is viable and it is generally accompanied by a condition.


I use the automobile analogy quite often with my clients. Here is where I differ in thought with you. A luxury, wants, and needs. Let us take a look at tires. I do not want to spend money for tires but I need the tires we agree that it is a necessity. Emotion informs me that I am required to buy a good tire for safety of my wife and children otherwise I could buy a retread tire. The emotion enters with the decision of the quality of tires. Could a Yugo be a luxury? My daughterís boyfriend bought his very first car and enjoyed his first purchase on credit. The car he chose certainly is not a luxury in my estimation however to him it is the absolute best. Compared to riding the bus it is a huge luxury. Isnít it the perception of the buyer that we must tap into in order to satisfy the client? His maybe to purchase the car was fed by a fear of ownership and the consequences to join the American dream of debt. This lead to I need to think about it and talk to his girlfriend many times over. None of the sales people addressed the fear issue with him; each became too involved in selling the car to discover the maybe. The maybe was not viable but accepted by the sales people.


"The seasoned pro is very good at intuiting what is what and when it happens: the first "no" can be correctly interpreted as final or it may take 5 or 6 "no's" before giving up. It's all in "reading" the prospect as you know". This must be included with yes, no, and maybe.


I have a belief most buyers do not want to say no in any form. When he or she does say no I have forced the no with something I have said, did not say, do or did not do. Again I am talking about a very low percentage of clients that want to say no and I concentrate on the very high percentage that really wants to say yes.

After more thought with no being the most powerful word I would have to agree with Gary and add yes to the no as being powerful words. I use to think the most powerful words were, I can do.
- by rich34232
I really am enjoying this thread. It would be real easy to hijack and take off in another direction with the other issues being brought into this conversation. What is very fascinating to me how things change in correlation to the industry?


John your maybe in my industry is normally a stall that translates into I am unwilling to pay your price at this moment. I have not driven the perceived value high enough to overtake the money in most cases. Sure there may be a couple of instances where the client must think about it or talk to their spouse such as a total home re-pipe or breaking the floor to replace the building drain. That is why maybe is not viable to me. In certain cases and a very small percentage where it is viable and it is generally accompanied by a condition.


I use the automobile analogy quite often with my clients. Here is where I differ in thought with you. A luxury, wants, and needs. Let us take a look at tires. I do not want to spend money for tires but I need the tires we agree that it is a necessity. Emotion informs me that I am required to buy a good tire for safety of my wife and children otherwise I could buy a retread tire. The emotion enters with the decision of the quality of tires. Could a Yugo be a luxury? My daughter’s boyfriend bought his very first car and enjoyed his first purchase on credit. The car he chose certainly is not a luxury in my estimation however to him it is the absolute best. Compared to riding the bus it is a huge luxury. Isn’t it the perception of the buyer that we must tap into in order to satisfy the client? His maybe to purchase the car was fed by a fear of ownership and the consequences to join the American dream of debt. This lead to I need to think about it and talk to his girlfriend many times over. None of the sales people addressed the fear issue with him; each became too involved in selling the car to discover the maybe. The maybe was not viable but accepted by the sales people.


"The seasoned pro is very good at intuiting what is what and when it happens: the first "no" can be correctly interpreted as final or it may take 5 or 6 "no's" before giving up. It's all in "reading" the prospect as you know". This must be included with yes, no, and maybe.


I have a belief most buyers do not want to say no in any form. When he or she does say no I have forced the no with something I have said, did not say, do or did not do. Again I am talking about a very low percentage of clients that want to say no and I concentrate on the very high percentage that really wants to say yes.

After more thought with no being the most powerful word I would have to agree with Gary and add yes to the no as being powerful words. I use to think the most powerful words were, I can do.
You have recognized that sales techniques and fear concepts are industry driven. A "maybe" to a shoe sales rep is different than for a Realtor, which is different for someone in construction. While I have never encountered the fear of ownership with my prospects, I am not in the construction business either.

I also said, "... almost no emotional attachment." My focus was on the utility category this type of purchase belonged to. Carl Jung wrote that every object comes with emotion, even a rag.

In cold call selling, all to many prospects enjoy saying "no." In your business however, I can see the quality among "yes," "no", and "maybe," are dramatically different which you have nicely demonstrated here. - by John Voris
Every NO means that you are closer to a sale ... from somebody else.

MAYBE's waste your valuable time. It is important to learn how to quickly turn a MAYBE into a YES OR NO. Learn how to QUALIFY. - by TonyB
Gary,

Good stuff. As a Sandler practitioner, NO is my second favorite answer. It allows me to verify whether or not I have a prospect with a concern or a suspect with a condition. If it is the latter, then I can move on quickly to the next prospective buyer. Maybe, can be a time consuming stall or a rejected offer. Many times a "maybe" is using you and your product or service as a means to negotiate a better deal from a competitor who he or she has already determined they are going to buy from. No need to go into my favorite answer! - by triadtraining
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