– So how is business? – I tried to release John’s thoughts.
– Well, business sucks. – he replied shortly, but for me these words were more than enough to understand that his revenue is down.
– What happened?
– The economy sucks and our sales numbers are down. – he started – We are working more and more every day, but we are gaining less and less results.

Suddenly John hang his head and I started to feel his very honest pain. I knew that I should be quiet and give him some space and time before he continues.

– Sometimes I feel that I am the only one who really cares about this. I am the only one who really works in this company.
– But you have a great product and as far as I remember your selling always went well in the last twenty years. – I tried to put John back on to the positive track, but he did not give me any chance for this. He just presented me the first excuse.
– Yes, but this time it is different and it all started a few years ago.

Oh boy, I knew that I will have to listen to the nice old presentation of the economic crisis and its effects, but I was also well prepared to handle this. Not to mention that I was hundred percent sure that at the end of the day John will stand up from our dinner with a multi-million mind solution.

– You know Zsolt, the market has changed.

I frowned but I wanted to listen to his version before I would start any argument.

– Go on, John.
– Everything started with the economic crash a few years ago. People lost huge parts of their wealth and they became very deliberate. They are watching and monitoring the market and business is not the same anymore.
– Indeed John – I tried to acknowledge him to ensure him the feeling that I am on his side.
– And then the Internet!
– What Internet? – My eyebrows went very high at this point because the Internet is way more older than the last economic crisis.
– You know, all the cheap products on the Internet. – said John in a very angry tone. I saw that his blood temperature is going up very fast as he continued. – We have the best products and solutions but our clients are still searching for new and newer discounts. We simply can not keep them without pulling down our trousers. And that’s what kills us.

This was the point where I decided to start my argument. Specially because the changes in the market can be very positive as well. I was never afraid from a little challenge and I believe that this was the point when I could motivate a little bit my old friend John.

– So let me understand your problem – I started – You have prospective clients who are interested in your products, right?
– Yes, we are presenting our portfolio in many places.
– So, you have prospective clients who are interested in your products and who need your products, right?
– Right. But we can not bring them into our umbrella because they are always looking for cheaper prices or just giving us those excuses.
– Excuses? What type of excuses? – I asked him back.
– You know, time, budget, etc… – said John in a more quiet way than before. I really felt that his mood has changed from anger into a depressed one. – And frankly, I can understand them. This current economy sucks.

At this point I could not stand not to smile. However John did not share my happiness and he immediately asked me point-blank:

– Why the hell on Earth are you smiling?
– Let’s play a role game and I will tell you.
– I am not in the mood to play.

I started to feel that he deserves some explanation.

– Okay John. Look, you have good products and you have prospective clients. However one of your major problem is that your sympathy does not allow you to close those deals.
– It is not true!
– Then play with me.
– Okay.

What I really wanted to make John understand was that ninety percent of the lost sales come from the excuses not handled.

– Perfect. Let’s say that you are my prospective buyer. – I started.
– Okay.
– And please drop me some of the excuses you hear day by day. I promise you I will not allow you to leave the restaurant without a sales contract.

John finally smiled and I started to see the expression in his face that he will catch me now. He was perfectly sure that he can drop me an excuse that I can not handle. I allowed him in this belief and I started…

– So, let’s say that you listened to my presentation of the my product that I want to sell to you. You had some interesting questions on its technical details, but you do not want to buy it yet. Drop me your excuses why you do not want to buy it.
– Thank you for this presentation, but I do not need this. – smiled John.
– If you would not need the product I offer here then we would not sit here today.
– Yes, but it is expensive.
– Yes, it is expensive. – I replied to John, who started to feel some kind of satisfaction.

I gave him the moment to enjoy this almost winning feeling then I continued.

– Yes, it is expensive because it brings you the requested result. Every thing that brings you result can not be considered expensive. The only thing that you can call expensive are those things that do not bring you any result. I am hundred percent sure that you are a man who is looking for a result oriented solution instead of a cheap one.

John started to be a little bit uncomfortable, but we both knew that it is very early to give it up.

– Okay, but we do not have this amount planned in our budget. – John showed his evil smile to me.
– I understand this. As I see you are looking for a solution to improve your business performance. Since we are talking about price you already understood that our product brings you results.
– Yes, but… – and here I cut immediately into the words of John.
– So yes, the result is a key question for you. We can agree on this. With proper results you can increase your income and revenue so the only question is when would you like to gain more profit?
– Okay, but I need to talk with the headquarter.
– I am pretty sure that the headquarter and your bosses are aiming at the same thing, to gain more profit. Do you believe they do not want improvement?
– Of course they want it, but I need to see other solutions as well to compare them.
– You are entitled to do it. However you just mentioned that you are looking at the result instead of the price. I am sure that you are looking for the best product for your company and I am very confident that if we sign a contract you will be very satisfied at the end of the day.

John reclined and he pined me his question with a smile on his face.

– You do not let me out from this, right?
– No. Because you have the intent to buy, you have the money to own my product and the only thing missing is your confident that you want to sign the contract with me now.
– So it is all about excuses? – asked John.
– In ninety percent of the cases, yes.
– That’s a lot.
– What is really a lot my fried is the margin you loose by not handling these excuses and letting your prospective clients to go to your competitors. This is why most of the companies are struggling because they are letting the prospective client to make new runs with other competitors.
– It is probably true. – said John.
– And believe it or not if you have targeted well your prospective client then he has money and intent so the only question is wether he buys it directly from you or from your competitors.

I saw on John’s face that he is thinking very hard. I almost heard the cogwheels ticking inside his head. I saw that he really wants to ask something, but I felt that my strong character friend became very shy at this point. Then he composed his thoughts together and I received his big question.

– Do you think this is working in the crisis as well?
– John, come on, we are not in a crisis.
– Yes, but we live it’s after effects.

I was not really sure why, but I decided to give him some explanation regarding my point of views. I decided to show him how he can grow in crisis, how he can close much more prospective clients. But I wanted to clear his mind first, I wanted to release his thoughts and implement positive ones instead of the negative ones.

Luckily I got a breathing space because our waiter finally arrived.

The story continuous in the NO EXCUSE! in business book.