Nobody says no anymore. But then again, nobody really has to.
Much of the lore and literature of sales has the seller managing the objection, tenaciously staying in the conversation and turning the no into a yes. But most sellers today wouldn't even recognize this kind of mano-a-mano customer interaction.
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First, most buyers effectively use technology to keep the seller at a distance until the time and circumstances of their choosing (like the very last minute when they need you to quote a price). They hide behind RFPs, email, voicemail and other means of high tech cloaking. If this was combat, the buyer would be operating a drone, far from the battlefield. Most sellers have rather mildly accepted the terms of this new relationship and are paying the price for it now.
But even when they do get face-to-face or voice-to-voice time with the customer, sellers end up taking no for an answer ... because the no sounds like a yes.
This is really exciting stuff. We look forward to working with you guys. Translation: I say this to everybody. It's a lot easier than arguing over merits or suitability. And you probably won't ask too many questions. No one does.
We're getting budget and direction soon and we'll make sure you get the RFP. Translation: Sure, we'd send an RFP to a ham sandwich. It doesn't even cost us a stamp. Knock yourself out slugger. You'll never know if we've never read it. In the meantime, ignorance is bliss.
Be sure and see my agency with this. Translation: If it was really something I cared about, I'd stay with the deal. Let them be the bad guys. There's zero upside in me rejecting you directly. I might need you someday.
Let's get a master services agreement in place. Translation: That should keep you occupied for a while. We pass out MSAs like free thumb drives. I'm not going to bother telling you that it won't move a single dollar and that the hard work is all still ahead and it's all on you.
Will you send me a proposal on this? Translation: This is the 21st century version of 'send me your media kit' and 'I'll keep your information on file.' I'll ignore it later.
There's zero upside for any customer to communicate a negative outcome. At best, they're inviting an argument and at worst they're causing their team more work. You've got to ask and then ask again. You've got to stay in the conversation just as it's starting to get uncomfortable.
Yes is the new no. And you can't take yes for an answer.
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