In “The Godfather”, Tom Hagen tells Vic Woltz that “Mr. Corleone is a man who insists on hearing bad news immediately.” What got us to the point where the Tom had to give the powerful Godfather bad news?
Well Tom wanted to sell Vic on the wisdom and profitability of giving Johnny Fontaine a part in Vic’s next blockbuster movie. Vic said no. He clearly and emphatically communicated his reasons. He had an extremely personal problem with Johnny Fontaine. Consequently, he refused to offer Johnny the role. The deal would have been profitable to Vic. However, the damage to Vic’s brand (and reputation) would have been horrific! Besides, the movie was destined to make money regardless.
The Godfather received the bad news. He then fulfilled an earlier proposition: “I’m gonna make him (Vic Woltz) an offer he can’t refuse.” Vic reconsidered and offered Johnny the role (after Vic awakened to find his prized racehorse’s decapitated head laying next to him in bed). Because the Godfather received a quick no from his prospect, he was able to reframe the offer to achieve the yes that he wanted.
A Fast “Yes” Is Best
“Time is money” is not just a cliché; it is a fact in finance theory. A dollar today is more valuable than a dollar tomorrow. When developing new business, reaching a fast yes allows the buyer to take advantage more quickly of the new purchase. In turn, the seller can receive payment sooner. Additionally, asking for the business after clearly communicating personally meaningful benefits to the prospect often yields a fast yes.
A Slow “Yes” Is Worthwhile
The slow yes is worthwhile because it still results in consummating the transaction. It may not maximize value, but it does create value. The slow yes does involve a heavier time investment. However, an ancillary benefit with slow yeses is that it gives the business development professional additional information regarding overcoming objections in the future. Essentially, slow yesses create greater opportunities to sell successfully to more prospects.
Slow “No” Is Worse
Slow no’s are painful and counterproductive. While additional knowledge and information is available as a result of negotiating through objections. The knowledge is expensive in terms of the time investment. Furthermore, the seller receives no tangible benefit. After all, the tangible, monetary benefit is both the goal and motivation to accomplished sales professionals.
To avoid slow no’s, business development professionals need to diligently work their sales process, focus on their deadlines, and progress steadily toward closing. The slow no hurts less with a full sales pipeline featuring potential yeses yielding successes.
The fast no presents opportunities. New business should be negotiated with a predetermined time frame. Consistently check on the potential return that you expect to earn on your time invested. In some cases a slow yes can be prohibitively expensive. Slow no’s can be death in business! If Vic would have continued to negotiate and drag out his decision, his slow no may have actually resulted in his death.
Nevertheless, the initial fast no allowed the deal to be reframed so that a relatively acceptable solution was mutually reached. The Godfather fulfilled his duty to help Johnny Fontaine win the part in the movie. Vic Woltz made another blockbuster. Losing face was dwarfed by the riches that the movie earned. The cost of losing the stud racehorse was a more substantial loss, but still was better for Vic than his own demise. In this case consistently working toward yes avoided devastating losses. The slow no did not really become an issue. Demonstrating business development success, the deal eventually was a win-win.
By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter & Beyond