“Put That Coffee Down!”

In the opening scene of Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin’s character delivers one of the most memorable, and downright seat squirming soliloquies in movies. Called by many the “Coffee is for Closers” speech, (aka the “Always Be Closing” speech), it delivers in 7 minutes what sales executives and teams have known for decades. Hear too many “No(s)” and not enough “Yes(s)”, and you are gone.

(Here’s that video- but warning…it is rife with offensive language)

The sales advice on understanding and overcoming “No” can fill libraries. Precious little is written however on the equally, if not more so, critical need to understand “Yes”. Why did you win the new business? Why did you renew a key customer? Why did they say “Yes” to your proposal?

The “Yes” is so instantly celebratory. It almost flies out of your email on it’s own to notify your organization. It rings the bell. It’s the reason for instant happy hour (or at a company I advise, “to wear the sombrero”). Everybody loves the “Yes”. But do they really understand the “Why” behind the “Yes”? Identifying the rationale behind the “Yes” is critical to understanding your value proposition. Ironically, not all “Yes” decisions are necessarily good news. Let’s break down a few of the more common reasons for “Yes”.

1. “You were the best price” –  Usually price is a key component of any decision, so understanding your margin tolerance is key. If you had to really cut deep to secure a particular piece of business, you’ll have to forecast how that precedent may effect your bottom line going forward. “Yes” won largely on the basis of price, can be fleeting, undercut, does not always bode well for business going forward.

2. “We’ve known (“Patti”) a long time and really like working with her” –  It’s always satisfying to hear that the team representing you is skillful enough to develop lasting relationships, and in turn, secure business. You can never have too many “Pattis”. You should always be training to develop more Patti’s because chances are, your competition knows her as well. Key sales people can get wooed away with enticing offers. What happens to Patti’s big “Yes” account if she leaves? Will they move their business over with her to the new job? A great countermeasure is working with Patti from the start, to make sure the customer values the performance of the product or service itself, and further, understands the full team working behind Patti, as much as Patti herself. Never forget your sales team is representing something larger than themselves, and shame on the sales management team that allows superstar sales people to bask in the spotlight, solo.

3. “You fit our needs the best” – In the end, building a great product or service, and helping customers easily understand those benefits – are one of the top goals of every sales training program. Stop telling them what you have, and help them understand why it matters to them. I have often advised salespeople “No one ever hired a carpenter because they have great tools”, so stop throwing all your features on the desk and describing how good they are. Creating a connection between your solution and your customer’s needs produces “Yes(s)” than can be built on and replicated.

4. “You came highly recommended by <company/person>” – Perhaps the best “Yes” you can get. Referrals come with something that can’t be designed or manufactured, or priced….Trust. Play for the long game of referrals, and when that is behind your “Yes”, strive to make that new customer feel the same as your referring customer. Service them with great care and you’ll not only create a new high trust customer, but a halo effect over the referring customer, further validating their original referral.

Understanding and overcoming failure (“No”) is well documented. Shine an equally bright light on “Yes”. Your strengths, even weaknesses, can be exposed and allow you to better gauge your strategy going forward.

OK, now you can have that cup of coffee.

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