N is for “not really”

If I’ve learned anything about sales over the years, it’s that you should try to establish a dialog using questions that can’t be answered by a simple yes or no. Questions requiring yes or no answers don’t give us enough information to be effective problem solvers. Maybe the client doesn’t have a problem, but then again, maybe there’s a process or idea they hadn’t considered. Early on in my career, I noticed some of my questions were answered not with yes or no, but with “not really.” After hearing that response a few times I considered its meaning. Try out these questions and respond with “not really.”

Doing anything fun this weekend? Will you have a marketing budget this year? Have you bought any printing lately?

When I had the aha moment that the answer “not really” translated to yes, but I don’t want to talk to you about it, I wondered why they opted to respond that way. It could be they didn’t want to lie and say no, when in reality the truth was yes, or perhaps they didn’t have the time to answer my question. One other option could be the person just wasn’t interested in having a conversation with me. Ouch…but that’s also sales reality. We’re not always going to be successful engaging everyone we try to connect with. Go ahead, you can ask me… does that hurt much? I’d answer, “not really.”


One thought on “N is for “not really”

  1. This is so true in the creative end as well. When a client is speaking, our biggest challenge is always interpreting what he/she REALLY means. We had a client once tell us that our design was not “feminine” even though we used a soft pink and mint, script font and soft shapes. We learned later that his mother’s favorite color was forest green and we had not used that shade of green. That was feminine to him.

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