Ask The Right Question At The Right Time

There are certain moments, typically in business development conversations, when you sense the entire future of your company is resting on that exact moment in time.  You realize what you say next will either result in an affirmative commitment to your company or a “thanks but no thanks” response.

I just had one of those and boy and I glad I knew it was happening.

The conversation was with a self-identified skeptic for which they were asking why they should consider working with Seconds.  This individual was very cordial and nice, yet opened the conversation with an obvious “you’re behind the 8-ball” tone.  It was up to me to unravel where they were coming from, identify where we fill the gaps and bring them to a point where they wanted to work with us.

I learned (or maybe realized) a few lessons as we were working our way through the conversation towards an agreement.

1.  No is easier than yes

People are naturally programmed to say no.  You must work towards the yes, which requires taking that person on a journey through why they are better off with your solution than not.  Saying yes requires one to actually commit to something.  Saying no requires no commitment, thus it is the easier option.  Remember, most people are commitment phobes and would rather say no than have to stick to a commitment.

2.  Conversations turn with one question

As we worked through our conversation and they received answers to all their questions, it became apparent to me I needed to take control of the conversation if I was going to get a satisfactory outcome.  At one point they mentioned they were already working with a “somewhat similar” company, and asked why they should consider working with Seconds?  My response… “how’s that working out?” and then waited for the answer.  I followed up with “are they rolling out nationwide with your organization being the only organization involved, meaning your organization will be highlighted and singled out?”

At that moment, the conversation changed.  It became clear there was no logical reason for this person to say no and we started down a very positive brainstorm on how to make our partnership even better.

3.  People need to be led

What this really comes down to is the fact that most people just need to be led to a decision.  Since people are programmed to say no – even when yes is the better answer – they need to be led to understand why yes is the better answer.  This takes courage for sure, because going out on a limb and calling someone out can be risky, they might get upset and you might even lose the opportunity.  Yet, it may be the only way you earn a new customer or distribution partnership.

You can learn a lot from one conversation, next time pay attention to how you are handling the questions you are being asked.  You might just help them help you.