Getting to YES
Estimated Lesson Time: 4 minutes
Am I correct in assuming that your success is very important to you? By now, you are aware of the importance of sales and how everybody sells something, aren’t you? Don’t you agree that sales is really about influencing others? Therefore, getting others to agree with you would be an incredibly powerful skill to master, wouldn’t it?
You have just witnessed a technique used to get a “yes” response. This technique is based on the Socratic method, which is all about asking questions. This is an excellent technique for asking for referrals, closing sales, or persuading others. When you ask someone a question, assuming they are listening, they always answer it. They may not answer it out loud, and they may answer it with “I have no idea,” but the question is always answered. One of the powerful uses of questions is to keep the attention of the listener or reader. The technique used above also uses questions to elicit a yes response. This “warms up” the listener by getting them in a positive frame of mind.
Let’s examine how this works in detail. We begin by determining our goal. My goal was to get you to agree that getting others to agree with you is an incredibly powerful skill to master. If I had just opened with the statement, “Getting others to agree with you is an incredibly powerful skill to master” you may have agreed with me, or you may not have. If you did not agree with me, you would be in “defensive mode” and even if I had proven my point later in the lesson you would not be as open to the idea. Now my example is a fairly easy sell, but this technique works equally as well with harder to sell ideas, products or services.
Now that we have our goal, we need to work backward and create several questions that we are confident will result in yes responses. In order for this technique to be effective, these questions must be relevant. You may be able to trick someone into saying yes by asking, “Would you like to have more money? Do you love your kids? Do you want to buy my widget?”—but their final yes will almost definitely be followed by an emphatic “NO!” Using a logical progression of questions that get yes responses make it easy for the listener to answer yes to our final question.
Here are some suggestions for formulating supporting or leading questions.
- Use yes tags. Yes tags are phrases such as “isn’t it,” “don’t you agree,” or “wouldn’t you say.” These phrases can be placed anywhere in the sentence and should be mixed up for maximum effectiveness.
- Soften your questions. If you use hard questions as leading questions, this technique may backfire on you. A “hard” question is one that uses definite terms that leave little room for flexibility. For example, “Smoking is the most deadly habit on earth, don’t you think?” is not as easy to agree with as “Smoking is one of the most deadly habits on earth, don’t you think?” Remember, you want to phrase the leading questions in such a way that it is almost impossible for others to disagree.
- Phrase in the positive. Questions should be phrased in the positive whenever possible. My opening question, “Am I correct in assuming that your success is very important to you?” could have been written as “Am I correct in assuming that your not achieving success would be a bad thing?” The mind remembers “achieving, success, bad thing” and that is not the message to which we want our listeners to agree.
If you think that this technique sounds a little manipulative, remember that the difference between manipulation and influence is intent. This technique is best used to counter other people’s natural “no” defensive response, not trick them into a “yes” response. Just as a knife can be used to kill, it can also be used to heal.
Questions are a very powerful and effective form of communication that can be used in many ways. This technique, when used properly, can help you to become more influential, help you to become a better communicator, and bring you another step closer to success.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)