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What Yes, No, And Maybe Really Mean



As entrepreneurs, we’re all salespeople, no matter how big our businesses get. Steve Jobs is a great example. We all know he started off creating in a garage as so many high-tech entrepreneurs did. Fast-forward 35 or 40 years, and he was the head of the most valuable company in the world and a game-changer in so many different ways.

But the number one salesperson at Apple was still Steve Jobs. He never forgot that as an entrepreneur, as the head of Apple, he was still a salesperson.

A simple formula that can boost your confidence.

While selling can be scary, every entrepreneur has to master the skill of taking something out into the marketplace to see if other people think it’s valuable enough to buy.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for four decades, and from going through the sales process many, many times, I’ve noticed that there’s a simple “formula” that defines every outcome. While selling might still be unnerving, the potential buyer’s response gives you important feedback. Being conscious of what this feedback means gives you more confidence going in.

The Selling Formula: Yes = Rewards us. No = Teaches us. Maybe = Kills us.

A “no” is not your biggest danger.

Every salesperson is aiming for a yes, wants a yes. Getting one means you’re going to be rewarded with a check. And, of course, checks are the lifeblood of any business. The check is your reward for creating something that’s of value to another person.

The flip side of that is a no—no one wants to hear no. But no does hold value for an entrepreneur if they’re open to seeing it. If you take a good look at why your sale was unsuccessful, you can take away a lot of learning. No teaches us useful information that we can use to improve, and keep on improving.

Many entrepreneurs, though, will even delay getting an answer—they’ll put it off to the next meeting—if they sense they’re not going to get a yes. They’re not courageous enough to accept a no. So they settle for a maybe.

I say it’s better to receive a fast and honest no than a drawn-out maybe, which is all about uncertainty. With uncertainty, you’re stuck. You can’t move forward in a confident, decisive way at all. And even one maybe can affect any number of other pending sales or areas in your business. You just don’t want to be in that situation very often, if ever. Maybe can kill us.

The truth of the matter is, the person who says they’ll think about it is very seldom ever going to say yes, so you might as well get to the no as fast as possible and learn the lesson that will improve your approach and your performance.

Aim for yes, learn from no, and steer way clear of maybe. #Selling
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Develop the yes-or-no mindset and capability.

My advice to you is to develop the mindset, the habit, that in any sales situation, you always want a yes or a quick, clear no. You look to the no for the learning that will stack the odds in your favor of getting a yes the next time. And you completely avoid the dangerous territory of maybe.

I always aim to force the issue. Is it a yes, or is it a no? I never allow a person to say, “Maybe,” or “I’ll think about it.” This strategy makes your life as an entrepreneur very simple and incredibly clear. The most important result, though, of making the commitment to only accept a yes or a definite no, is that it takes courage. But with courage, your yes-or-no capability develop, and your confidence—which I always say is an entrepreneur’s greatest responsibility—automatically goes up.

The thing that does kill entrepreneurial confidence is the decision to settle for a maybe.

About the Author

Dan Sullivan is the world’s foremost expert on entrepreneurship in action. He is the founder of The Strategic Coach Inc. and creator of The Strategic Coach® Program. Visionary, creative, wise, playful, and generous, he is a true champion of entrepreneurs worldwide.

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