Robin Starr, at the time, was an Insurance Agent and gave a speech at Toastmasters that addressed or suggested that there are only seven responses to any question. Robin’s view is through the lens of professional selling. However, upon further reflection, this template could be applied to other situations or encounters. Irrespective of your business or profession, these seven responses generally apply to any question you may be asked. So, I am listing them below:
This is the perfect answer, the one most hoped for, and the best of all responses. This is what you want to hear when you ask for an appointment, agreement, approval or any type of “buy-in.” This is what you want to hear when you ask for information and most of all what you want to hear when you ask for the business. There is simply not a more welcomed sound.
For most of us, “no” is one of the most disappointing sound imaginable. Perhaps the one exception is when you took a medical test and the results were, “no you don’t have it.’ However, on the bright side, you know where you stand. It doesn’t mean you have to give up and go home. You just have to persevere and try again. As a professional, you know that you sometimes have to regroup before the next effort.
This is a “squishy and indecisive answer.” It’s a hedge. But, there may still be hope. If this is a client or potential client situation, they may need help making a favorable decision. They may need more information or you may need to create more value for them. Realistically, the decision could go from “maybe” a “no” but it is also possible to lead to a “yes.”
I Don’t Know
This could be a wonderful answer for a salesperson. In a selling situation, the prospect or client may realize that you have created value or could in the future. This is an opportunity to offer some new information, a demonstration or even a test of your product or service. Generally, you believe that your client or prospect knows their business, but there is always the chance that there is some aspect about which they may not be familiar. So, if you can help them recognize this knowledge gap and become aware of some new knowledge, you are creating new opportunities for yourself.
I Don’t Care
This is worse than a “no” answer. If your client or prospective client, colleague or team doesn’t care about the better results your idea or proposal can deliver, then there isn’t anything here to talk about. You may even make the case that your product, service or idea can improve results, lower costs, increase safety or numerous other benefits, and your prospect may still say “I don’t care.” At this point, you are done, unless and until you can help them to care.
I Don’t Want to Talk About It
The proposal that you are offering may require your client or prospective client to change and this may be painful for them. The status quo, although insufficient, will die and be replaced with something that is different. It usually doesn’t matter what the difference will be the reaction is that “different is bad no matter what.” Your role may have to morph into that of a counselor and help the client, prospect or team to “talk about it” even if they prefer not to. If you can get the issue out on the table, you have helped and added value. The next step is to help them reach agreement to begin dealing with it.
I Don’t Want You to Talk About It
One group of stakeholders hates your proposal. They know another group is going to love your big, value creating idea. So they work to shut you down, to block you. They threaten you with the loss of your relationship if you dare to cross out of their silo. The last thing they need is you going and changing things without them being able to control it. They don’t want you to talk about it, but being a value creator means creating the right value—even when it’s difficult.
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