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Slow Down for Yellow Lights

Traffic lights can have several additional lig...Image via Wikipedia

What do most drivers do when the traffic light turns yellow as they are approaching an intersection?  They step on the gas!

Business owners and sales professionals do this in the sales process as well.  There can be awkward moments in the sales process (yellow lights).  Fearing that the sale may hit a "red light," many will "step on the gas" rather than slowing down to address the issue.

Here is a simple example to illustrate:

Prospect:  "We want this project completed in four weeks.  Can your company get it done?"

Sales Person:  "Uh ... yes."

Although he said yes, the sales person is thinking, "This is going to strain the resources of the company and such a tight deadline may impact quality of the project which will impact the long term results.  However, it feels less risky to deal with those issues later rather than express my concern."

Slow Down for Yellow Lights!

Habitually speeding through yellow lights will eventually cause a costly accident.  A better way to handle these awkward moments is to slow down and discuss concerns until the light turns green.

For example:

Prospect:  "We want this project completed in four weeks.  Can your company get it done?"

Sales Person:  " Perhaps we can.  I will have to review our production schedule to be sure.  However, I do have a concern.  Four weeks is a very tight time frame for this type of project.  More time might be required to insure quality.  What are your thoughts about that?"

The light is certainly yellow.  There are at least four possible outcomes here.

  1. The sales person find out that a four-week deadline is not mission critical and that quality is more important. Green Light!
  2. The sales person may find out that four weeks is mission critical for parts, but not all of the project. Green Light!
  3. The sales person may find out that four weeks is mission critical, but the prospect has resources to help meet the deadline such as their own staff or a big budget. Green Light!
  4. Finally, the sales person may find out that this looks like a nightmare waiting to happen and that she should tactfully walk away. Red Light!  (Obey the traffic signal and perhaps her company can come back to clean it up after someone else screws it up. Green Light!)

Regardless, the best outcome comes from slowing down and addressing the yellow light.

Tell us about some "yellow lights" that you have encountered in the past.  Did you speed up or slow down?

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