YES OR NO?
Elaine’s sales manager, Tom, had an unexpected question for her during their weekly one-on-one coaching session. It sounded like this: “What are you going to do to cut down
on your TIOs?”
“I’m not really sure how to answer that, Tom.” Elaine said. “What’s a TIO?”
Tom smiled. “I was hoping you’d ask,” he said. “As professional salespeople, we can generate three possible responses to the fundamental question we pose to prospective buyers: Are we moving forward together? One of those answers is ‘Yes.’ One of those answers is ‘No.’ And the third answer is ‘Let me think it over,’ abbreviated as TIO. But you know what? Those three responses really point toward only two real-world outcomes.
The TIO buyers are deciding to not make a decision – which, in reality, means they are telling you NO, at least for now.”
Elaine thought about this for a moment, then said, “Even if they seem positive?” “Even if they seem positive. Here’s why: a decision to not make a decision is a decision.
That means a TIO is usually just a NO we haven’t come to terms with. Basically, a TIO is denial. And right now, it looks to me like your pipeline is clogged with TIOs. To make
the most of your time -- and the prospects’ time -- it might make sense to assume these TIOs are NO answers, and work from there.”
The Decision Paradox
A prospective buyer’s decision to not make a decision really is a decision. We may not think it’s a decision - but it is.
Many salespeople are quite comfortable hearing responses like “Let me think it over.” Or “Can we talk about it sometime next week?” Or “Maybe.” They’ll even tell their sales
manager that those kinds of responses mean that things are “looking good” with that opportunity.
But are they? We may try to convince ourselves that things are looking good. We may tell ourselves that “Maybe” is better than “No.” But is it?