Marketers love the thrill of getting to 'Yes!' with prospects and they (and everyone else for that matter) hate to hear the dreaded "No."
But what about 'Maybe?'
We rarely hear 'Yes' right out of the gate from most prospects. Savvy marketers realize that building relationships through multiple touches is essential to successful marketing.
So, quite often, marketers put prospects in the 'Maybe' category after picking up on signals that indicate potential for a 'Yes.' But, those signals could also mean the prospect is a 'Fake Maybe.' That's why we need to reduce ambiguity and clear up the situation right away.
Not a 'Fake' Impact
During the relationship building process, prospects hit marketers with various stalls and objections. Sometimes the prospect needs more information or isn't quite ready to buy. In many instances, the prospect might legitimately need to reach a comfort level with you, your product or service. They might move to 'Yes' if we can meet their needs or solve a problem.
On the other hand, some prospects are really 'Fake Maybes' and they can adversely impact sales people, the sales director, and ultimately the entire organization.
Sales people begin to count on the business and over time the 'Fake Maybe' takes an emotional toll. Plus, 'Fake Maybes' ask for more information and delay their decision again and again. Sales people spend precious time and energy providing information and answering questions. They believe and hope that 'this time' it will lead to 'Yes.'
The Sales Director could be dealing with multiple 'Fake Maybes' which skews their numbers. If each sales person has two or three fake maybes, a manager might be counting on 15 to 20 or more sales that probably aren't going to materialize. The numbers begin to add up and the 'not so fake' impact snowballs. The Sales Director starts to pressure the sales people and they begin to lose confidence and miss their numbers. It's a vicious cycle.
The solution is to quickly spot 'Fake Maybes' and turn them into a 'Yes' or 'No.' That's right, a 'No' is actually better than a 'Fake Maybe.'
'Fake Maybe' Signals
So what are the signals? Well, as one would expect, each case is a little different. But, the tell tale sign is the prospect is saying mildly positive things about your product or service while putting off a firm decision via some sort of objection.
"We like your (Insert Service). When we need (Insert Service), we consider your company and (Insert Competitor)."
"That makes sense. But, our budget cycle runs from (Insert Dates) and we won't be able to make any adjustments until (Insert Date)."
"With the holidays coming up, we're not ready to make a decision. Stop back in the New Year."
"I like what you are saying. But, we have not done (Your Product or Service) in the past. It will take some convincing of (Insert Title)."
In each example, some sales people move towards small talk or mention more features and benefits about their product or service. Why? There's no pain associated with talking some more to the prospect, leaving with a smile and an "I'll follow-up with you on (Insert Date)."
The sales person can enter the call as a 'Maybe' and add prospect comments to their database or call report. And, they can call back and keep thinking that they might actually close this one.
Overcoming the 'Fake Maybe'
The key to overcoming 'Fake Maybes' is a straight forward solution...but implementing it takes practice and discipline. When a prospect appears to be a 'Fake Maybe,' the marketer needs to ask open ended questions that are both fact and emotion based. Then, do something sales people are often accused of not doing well: Listen!
Scenario: "We like your (Insert Service). When we need (Insert Service), we consider your company and (Insert Competitors)."
Fact Based Questions:
About how often do you use (Service) in a particular (timeframe: Week, Month, etc.)?
Who are some of the companies you have used in the past?
What are the top two or three reasons you chose (Competitor)?
Emotion Based Questions:
What's the one thing my company could do to make your life easier?
What can a company like mine do to make you happy?
What's the one thing I could do to get you to use us in the next (timeframe: week or month)?
When in doubt, ask a question...and listen. If you have done your Pre Call Prep, you will have a series of fact and emotion based questions ready to ensure that you know whether this prospect is a 'Real' or 'Fake Maybe.'
Let Those 'Fake Maybes' Go!
Ultimately, marketers need to get rid of those 'Fake Maybes.' They waste time and energy. You owe it to yourself and your organization to let them go now. Once you move on to real 'Maybes' and provide them with solutions, you will hear more of your favorite word: 'Yes.'