‘No’ Could Mean ‘Yes’, So Just Talk to Me

Marigold hotel”Just talk to me.”

I saw a post in a sales group on LinkedIn:

How do you generate leads of potential customers in B2B, industrial products, raw materials or semi-finished products?

Actually it was a poll and 33% said they did geographical screening/searching; 33% said they used fairs, ads, associations, the web and etc.; and 33% said they used “other,” but it didn’t say what “other” was.

I bet it’s cold calling.

I saw a movie a while ago  called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Here’s the trailer.

I loved it and highly recommend it.

It’s about a bunch of financially distressed old farts that travel to Jaipur, India (for various reasons) to spend their golden years in the lap of luxury. When they get there they discover they’ve been taken in by advertising that promised so much more than it delivered.

Or did it?

One of the characters, the magnificent Dame Judith Dench as the no-nonsense newly widowed Evelyn, takes a satisfying job instructing workers at a call center on phone manners and how to converse with overseas callers. This is after a frustrating earlier scene where she is trying to communicate with a robotic call-center rep trying to solve a technical snafu in her home in England.

The operator is so fixed on her script that she doesn’t even acknowledge the information that she (Evelyn) can’t put her husband, the named account holder, on the line because he’s dead.

The movie illustrates many of the cultural and etiquette differences between India and the U.S.  In India one of the unique etiquette issues is when “yes” also means (and often times does mean) “no.”

Sometimes in the U.S., just the opposite is true: “no” can mean “yes” – especially in sales sourcing situations.

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(Yes can also mean no as in when a mother wisely tells her child, in response to a plaintive plea that goes on and on and on, “Yes, maybe someday.”)

I almost fell out of my chair when I saw the irrefutable Evelyn chastise Sunaina (Tena Desae) the college-educated call center worker during a role-play of an outgoing marketing telephone call.

Sunaina had already (first thing in the call) broken Evelyn’s trust by lying to her.

Evelyn considered the fact that Sunaina had asked for a “few moments” of her time early in the call when in fact the call would take 12 minutes of her time, a violation of British etiquette.

“You lied to me. Already the trust is broken,” Evelyn matter-of-factly states to Sunaina, and the assembled call workers gathered ‘round to watch the exchange. This was after she warned the group not to ask someone “how they’re doing” on a call because it was offensive, didn’t really sound natural, and besides, everyone knows, “You don’t really care how I’m doing.”

This has always been two of the bedrock features of my MagicMethod phone training and I was stunned to see I’m not the only one who recognizes the value in those subtle hierarchies here in the United States.

The ever-optimistic hotel operator Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), trying to keep his struggling hotel afloat, has a mantra that says, “It will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right now, it must not be the end.”

That saying seems to go hand-in-hand with the exotic land’s “yes means no” mentality but when competing in world markets over the telephone the “yes means no means yes” confluence must be attained if truly everything is to be all right in the end.

Maureen Sharib has been a “Socratic sourcer” her entire sourcing career; from the moment she first picked up the faxed list of Silicon Valley high-tech companies that was her target list to “phone source” in 1996 to today she has instinctively followed this method of investigative sourcing using (mostly) the telephone.  She is a proponent of sourcing as a synonym for success and envisions the craft moving away from a dangerously drudgery-paced life-form existence to an exciting investigative/competitive place within organizations where practitioners co-exist within a framework of market research, human resources, and C-level future planning. She owns the phone sourcing and competitive intelligence firm TechTrak.com, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at techtrak.com or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!