My father-in-law is a very gifted man when it comes to making things.

He really amazes me (sometimes to the chagrin of his children).  But in my case, I didn’t get to learn things like that while growing up so I am quite impressed.  I truly believe if you gave my father-in-law a roll of duct tape, three Popsicle sticks, a cup of marbles and seventy-two hours – and he could build a house.

As of late, he has really gotten into making bird houses.  These aren’t just any birdhouses, mind you.  These are very detailed and quite ornate.  These are the kind of birdhouses that would be the envy of all the other birds in the neighborhood… maybe even a few humans.  He does this without the assistance of any blueprints or instructions.  He just comes up with his own designs and makes the magic happen.

I’ve known others over the years who may have been equally skillful in their craftsmanship.  But they could never make a decision on exactly how to design what they were building.  One particular friend that I remember in high school could build anything – if you told him what you wanted.  But if he had to make the decision himself, he would just stare at the table.

I have never been a salesman who liked the word, “maybe”.  It frustrated me.  So did “maybe’s” first-cousin, “I need to think about it.”  I have always taken advantage of my sense of humor in selling.  There were times when I would get the dreaded, “I need to think about it.” when I would say, “Alright.”  Then I would extend my left arm, look at my watch as if I was beginning to time a race – and say, “Go!”  Although that antic did usually elicit a laugh – I don’t remember it ever getting them to make a decision any faster.

It didn’t matter if I was selling something that was a one-call close, or if I was selling in a more complex scenario requiring multiple meetings – when I made my recommendations and asked for permission to move forward I fully expected a decision to be made.  I got so frustrated in my early days of selling, I put a sign on my desk that read, “Tell me yes.  Tell me no.  Tell me heck no! But don’t tell me “maybe.”

Over the years, I learned some strategies that proved very worthwhile in reducing the maybes.  Implement them and I think you will find it easier to move the process forward.

  1. Establish in the early stage of the sales process whether you are meeting with the decision maker, or a decision influencer.  Always try to have the decision maker in attendance.  But when not possible, have a complete understanding of the role of the person you are meeting with.
  2. Establish the buying cycle and process on the front end.  When there are others involved, determine how the consensus will be built and your role in building that consensus. Determine with your prospect when an answer can be given.
  3. Give your prospect permission to say no.  As odd as that sounds, taking them completely off the hook allows them to relax and feel better about making the decision to move forward.
  4. Ask the right questions.  Before you go for the close, ask a simple question.  “Are there any areas where you and I still need to work through the details in order for you to be comfortable in moving forward?”

Tomorrow, we will discuss how to improve your sales when you must work through a decision influencer.


Did this help?  Maybe?  🙂