Part 2 – Turning a No into a Yes!

I love turning a No into a Yes. That feeling you get when you know that your team was right and that you were not all crazy in thinking the way you did, it really feels good. Plus it really helps the bottom line when you can turn a NO into a YES. So here is part 2, of 2, in my very short series on how to turn a NO into a YES.

This second example of turning a No into a Yes comes from a property development project that I worked on a few years ago. A project that we really believed in, a cannot fail project in our opinion…but it’s never that easy. The quick background on this project is that we came across an older commercial property (strip mall), that was in decent structural shape, but was completely outdated and featured zero branded retailers/restaurants. Today, without brands and good strong leases your commercial property likely has very little value. So, we saw an opportunity and put an offer in on the property. We had several design concepts ready to go that we were going to pitch to multiple AAA branded retailers/restaurants. WIth our offer to buy the property submitted (with a grace period to qualify the property), now, it’s a race. Land a premium lease from a AAA tenant before we have to close on the property, and if we can’t, pull out of the deal before we own something horrid.

So we go to work putting multiple presentations together, this includes a demographic package, local regulations package, environmental package, traffic studies and our branded concepts complete with Photoshopped storefronts and retail/restaurant layouts to help the potential tenant see the unrealized value in this property. We start with simple templated presentations to quickly pitch to multiple corporate offices to gauge any interest. We get several bites and proceed to tailor our presentations for our hot leads which quickly comes down to two leads, then one really hot lead and one maybe.

With commercial property projects that are strip mall in nature, most are not exciting, but this one was. This project if we nailed it was going to dramatically increase the price of the property long term, we knew it was a winner because we knew the area demographics. Convincing a corporate office of your local knowledge, well, that is not always straightforward, but we had a good updated “final” presentation so we submitted it to our hottest lead. After a couple of back and forth email communications we were in a holding pattern but we were pretty confident.

The return answer…NO. There was one major sticking point on the design that they said was not workable, and it was a space issue so no easy fix. Our first response was a respectful, your wrong and here is why. Our initial thought was that they misinterpreted our data so we went back respectful but strong in our position. Still NO, but at least they gave some suggestions on how it might be able to work. The suggestions were completely unreasonable and we knew it after 30 seconds of reading the email. But, in sales, keep it alive if you believe in the project enough. So we told them we are looking at it and will get back to you shortly. What we actually did was ignore their suggestions and instead submitted some alternative designs. None of these new designs met their needs but they were not killing the project so we knew there was something there and that they wanted the property to work.

This went on for about three weeks until we were just about to give up and throw in the towel, in big part because the closing date on the property was coming up and we did not want to get stuck with it without the right tenant. Instead of quitting this project we thought, let’s get back to basics and take one more shot at this. They have one issue so let’s just revisit that issue and fix it, but we had been trying to do that all along, so how are we going to fix it now? The answer, go back to the original presentation that we knew was the right option, the option that we firmly believed in. Whiz up the graphics so the visual looked better, along with different colours, font, anything to make it look NEW and send it in.

The answer we got back…YES! Happy days. Now, do I know if this little presentation trick that we pulled is the reason the answer came back YES this time, not for sure but I tend to think it was. Maybe the improved graphics helped convey the completeness of the original presentation, maybe there were other factors in play that we had no idea were in play? At the end of the day, I really don’t care all that much, we turned a NO into a YES because we believed and stayed true to the winning design. In business, sometimes don’t ask why and just accept a YES 🙂

Gary Moran

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