The Computer Never Answers Back

When did the words ‘yes’ and ‘no’ begin to disappear from our language?

Having been creating and developing businesses for forty years, not always successfully and after advising and coaching entrepreneurs, owners and managers for sixteen of those forty; I noted a change in business styles that began with the general use of the Internet. As I complained in a recent blog, many of the current aspiring business bosses don’t know their marketing from their selling. The same group appear to shop around, online, for the lowest prices without making a proper value appraisal and always pay what the seller asks.

The introduction of digital communication appealed to the lazy side of us all. We can avoid being rejected by using electronic communication. At least if we were rejected, it wasn’t us. It was our e mail or our Website or our digital newsletter. We could avoid being invited to go forth and multiply by avoiding any conversation. The computer never answers back and so never says ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to us.

As a sales soldier, many years ago, marching from door to door I made a blinding discovery: the telephone. Going from door to door I could attempt to persuade four or five people an hour to listen to my proposition. By telephone I could double or triple that number. I remembered reading a short story about a man who fell in love with a telephone operator because she had the voice of an angel. When he finally persuaded her to meet him he found she was, in fact, whatever the opposite of an angel is. This gave me another idea and I found a lady with the voice of a rather seductive angel to make the ‘phone calls to prospective customers.

I’m sure I wasn’t the inventor of telephone canvassing but it was very novel at the time. I ceased being a soldier and became a captain, not long after I was a general or at least a colonel. The sultry voiced lady was saying the same thing as I did at the door but was very much more effective, for reasons every man understands, at getting the door open.

So what was it that we said that got us through the door? It wasn’t so much what we said but the way we said it. Something that appears to have been forgotten or never learned, by many, we can only say yes or no in answer to a question.

Which is more persuasive. ‘My product will save you money, listen to me’ or ‘If my product saved you money, would you listen to me?’ The first will make your eyes glaze over the second gives you an opportunity to make your own decision.

There is a technique to asking questions that offer an easy decision. This was probably devised by tax collectors around the time of Henry the Second; ‘Do you want to pay your taxes or have your head cut off?’ The ‘offer you can’t refuse’ that did not become famous until Marlon Brandon stuffed small apples into his cheeks to play The Godfather.

Negotiation and that includes selling, done well, offers propositions on which the recipient can make an easy positive decision. There is nothing mysterious or even clever about it; just a learnable technique. History tells us Henry the Second’s tax collectors were neither mysterious nor clever.

Perhaps we have forgotten or never learned how to influence others and have them say ‘yes’ to us. Perhaps that is why 75% of all business start ups fail within their first three years of trading. The basic business equation, revenue minus cost equals profit, relies on customers saying yes to our offers and suppliers saying yes to lower prices, quicker deliveries, extended credit and a guarantee of quality, rarely offered unless we ask for it. We need to ask the question in order to get a positive response. We need to ask the question in a certain form the get a positive response most of the time.

That is why The Yes Project has begun, to help British business people hear ‘yes’ more often from customers, suppliers, colleagues and superiors. To gain more agreement and acceptance of their ideas, proposals and propositions.

So what is The Yes Project? It is a not for profit organisation that has condensed the wisdom and experience of a large number of influencers and persuaders from Harvard Law School to Sugs, the misrepresented, grumpy guru on TV. All of this is condensed into just three convenient, affordable and fun workshops. These all have fun titles; The Secret Power of Questions; Discovering Desires and The Only Response is Yes. All less than a hundred minutes and for under fifty Quid.

If you could get your customers, suppliers, colleagues and superiors to say ‘yes’ to you more often, would that make your life simpler and more rewarding?

If you could learn a way to do that what would that be worth to you? Would I be right in thinking it would be worth more than £150?

With www.the-yes-project.org.uk never be afraid of rejection again.

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