Direct Marketing Article
Never Take No from Someone Who Can't Say Yes
By JoAn Majors
When it comes to making a proposal or pitch to deliver your product or
service to a prospect, remember that the question is not just the answer;
the question is the cure. Whether you are presenting legal services to a
corporation, a plastic packaging system to a food manufacturer, paper
products to an office supply company or a treatment plan to a patient, keep
in mind that the one asking the question actually controls the conversation.
So find out early if the person you are speaking to can actually make the
decision to purchase the product or service you seek to provide.
Many people simply cannot make a definite choice on their own.
Decision-making is not something they can do solo; they must go to someone
else-a partner, manager or someone higher up in the company-in order to make
up their own minds. Rather than dismissing such prospects as immature or
irresponsible or a colossal waste of your time, understand that your
judgment is getting in the way of providing them with what they need.
Instead, treat these customers with a greater degree of care since they are
no doubt already uncertain, possibly insecure, maybe in a little over their
heads. It's very likely that discussing proposals that cost a lot of money
or time are not their favorite conversations. In this increasingly complex
world, many business as well as families, couples and even individuals
practice a division of labor, especially where purchasing goods and services
is concerned and particularly when money is tight and times are tough.
Let's imagine such a scenario. Albert, your prospect, has been listening to
the options you have outlined and now says one of three things:
• "I need to think about it."
• "I'll have to talk to my manager about that."
• "That's awfully expensive (or time consuming). I can't make that kind of
In the first case, Albert has elected to share very little information.
Instead of meeting his defensiveness with your own defensive thought, "So
what does he need to think about?," understand that he is actually telling
you a great deal, namely that he's too uncomfortable to share the actual
objection or that there may be a third party involved. That's a tip-off to
you that a greater degree of trust is necessary before any disclosure about
the real issue can take place. In the second case, Albert is revealing his
dilemma and not just brushing you off, so don't brush off his remark.
Although you and have spent plenty of time getting to know him and his
business and presenting your information in his style, it's now time to find
out more about his manager. In the third case, an actual objection is
stated---it's expensive (or time consuming)---and Albert tells you he needs
help with the decision. Knowing the objection AND that another person is
involved in the decision makes it a great deal easier to proceed.
In all three cases, your concern is how to encourage the person not present
to consider your proposal. Your job is to give Albert---your walking,
talking marketing tool---the opportunity to send a beneficial and acceptable
message to the person who in fact may make the final decision. So what do
"In addition to you, is there anyone else who might influence the decision?"
Or: "Besides you, is there anyone who might also be interested in the
proposal we're discussing?"
Please take note: neither question demeans Albert, exploits his indecision
or forces his hand in any way. Your neutrality assumes a simple reality that
someone else might be involved. It's a natural outcome of the conversation
expressed with curiosity. What might the prospect most likely say?
"Yes, my stockholders (or lawyer, accountant, financial advisor)."
"What might his or her concerns about this proposal be?" Or: "What is it
that your manager (or stockholders, etc.) might want to know about this
product or service?"
Sometimes it's price or payment plan or return on investment; sometimes it's
function or longevity. You can never know until you find out more, and you
can only find out more by asking with care, concern, respect and
It is quite a time saver if you can ask this in the beginning of the phone
interview or initial visit, particularly if the product or service is
relatively new or its value is still not common knowledge. Realize that the
more information you can find out about your prospect's concerns and
objections, the more material you have at your disposal. The art of
persuasion is nothing more than building a roadmap that establishes value
and integrity to the product or service and results in what we call
This simple communication skill can change those folks who drive us nuts
because they just cannot decide. Many individuals simply can never say yes
to anything. Should that stop them from benefiting from your excellence and
getting what they actually came to you for? Structure your presentation or
pitch so that you make it easy for the indecisive ones to do what you want
them to do and hard for them to do what you don't want them to do.
Making it easy for them to get what they need means involving the
decision-maker in a respectful and encouraging way. When it comes to getting
a prospect's concerns out in the open and knowing the decision-makers, don't
be afraid to ask!
About the Author:
JoAn Majors is a professional speaker and member of the National Speakers
Association and the Global Speakers Network, a two-time business founder and
a three-time author. For more on her seminars and her latest book, "Encouragementors:
16 Attitude Steps for Building Your Business, Family & Future," visit