Stop Accepting “Maybe”

Scott Birkhead makes an excellent observation for job seekers.

When reading this article, please remember that when you interview for a job, you are a sales person. The product you are selling?  YOU!


Link:  Scott’s Article

Stop Getting “Maybe” in Interviews By Working Harder to Get to No.


I hate that answer. Of all the things that can happen when I sell, the very worst is when the client looks at me, smiles politely, and says “I’ll think about it,” “I’ll get back to you,” “I need to talk it over with someone” or any other form of maybe.

From experience, I know that “maybe” is most likely a non-confrontational no, so the person is not convinced.

But unlike a brave no, I get no feedback.

Selling is a process of ‘homing in’ on each target, like a rader-guided missile into an enemy aircraft. Those systems literally ‘find’ their way to a hit by comparing flight and position data with a moving goal, computing whether its current flight path will end up with a ‘hit,’ and making adjustments when necessary.

Maybe gives me no data for adjustment.

I want a strong yes. I will take a ‘hell no.’ But maybe is terrible. If I get a yes or a no, it means that I’ve done several things well:

1. I’ve been clear in my message.

2. People know where I stand and what I am all about.

3. They know exactly what I want them to do and why.

4. They know what they’re going to get and how much it will cost.

If they say yes, I know I’m on track. If they say no, at least I can steer or re-work my message (or completely change tactics if I need get too many in a row).

But the ‘maybe’ gives me nothing.

Many of my clients leave interviews (selling meetings) with neither a firm yes or a firm no. In fact, often they’ll take the absence of a ‘no’ to mean they’ve had a great interview. Then things just seem to fizzle…they’re always in the running, but never come out with the job offer.

That’s why you should be selling for the ‘no.’

What does that mean?

Literally you should be figuring out all the reasons a company might say ‘no’ to you, and then using your time with them to explore them in as much detail as you can.

That’s the opposite of what most interviewers do! Trust me, I know…I’ve interviewed probably 7000 people in my life, and most people are there with only one objective – highlight the good, hide the bad, and do anything necessary to get someone to say yes.

It results in a lot of amateurish sales behaviors – the ones you find so icky when they’re practiced on you: manipulating, whining, lying. You know, the things that make you cringe when you think of yourself as a ‘salesperson.’

That’s why selling for a ‘no’ is so much better and easier.

Most of the time when you find and investigate a particular reason for someone not to hire you, you’ll both realize it’s not a legitimate issue. Most of the reasons you get eliminated aren’t – skill set minutia, ‘overqualified,’ titles, etc.

When you dig into these reasons with a decision maker, you find most are like soap bubbles – they pop and go away without a trace. (Different story with HR people, but that’s another blog post).

Other times you’ll find a reason that IS valid – values, challenges you haven’t solved (and could be damaging if you fail), management style differences and the like.

When you dig into these, you’ll still get eliminated, but at least you’ll know WHY! And most of the time you’ll be OK with it (after all, if they have completely different values, you don’t want to work there anyway!)

Often, these no’s tell you that you’re exactly on track with your marketing messages – if you’re getting no for the right reasons, that is a WIN!

But often, the digging will reveal that you have much in common with them. And it will reveal that you’re a good digger, which tells them you care enough to ask great quetions, and are professional enough to only commit where you know you can make an impact.

That’s the true beauty of selling for a no – when there are no more no’s, people readily, eagerly say YES.

Lou Berger

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