5 Strategies for Getting to “Yes”

Whether you want to experience more success in your business or personal life, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to understand how to get people to say “Yes” to you.

Obviously, this skill will come in handy in sales negotiations, but that’s not the only application for such a vital talent.  Being able to sway people to your side comes in handy when you’re seeking promotions, trying to earn special discounts on major purchases or even asking out a member of the opposite sex.

All of the following strategies are based in an understanding of human psychology, and should improve your odds of getting more “Yes” answers in your life.  Use them wisely, and you could see a major shift in your ability to get what you want!

Strategy #1 – Use the chain of affirmations

Human beings love to be consistent, which is why you’ll often find people standing up with unpopular opinions – simply because counteracting the prevailing wisdom would make them inconsistent in other areas of their lives.  You can use this internal need to your advantage.

The key to the chain of affirmation is to get people to agree to smaller statements that eventually lead up to the question to which you want the “Yes” answer.  For example, consider the following sales negotiation exchange:

Person #1: “Would you consider yourself to be someone who keeps up-to-date on the latest technology?”

Person #2: “Yes, definitely.”

Person #1: “And would you say that adopting these new solutions is a priority for you?”

Person #2: “For sure.”

Person #1: “So you’d be someone who’s interested in learning more about how my product can help you stay on the industry’s cutting-edge?”

At this point in the conversation, Person #2 has established that he’s someone who likes new technology and gadgets.  Therefore, to remain consistent in both his string of “Yes” answers and his personal conception of himself as a technological innovator, he must respond “Yes” to Person #1’s final question – opening the door for more promising sales negotiations.

Strategy #2 – Give people a reason to say “Yes”

Another interesting psychological construct to consider is that people prefer to think of themselves as rational, logical beings – even though we’re often anything but!

Take, for example, an interesting experiment conducted by Harvard research Ellen Langer, as cited in Robert Cialdini’s classic book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”  Langer’s experiment involved approaching people in a crowded copy shop and asking, “Excuse me, I have five pages.  May I use the Xerox machine?”

Surprisingly, about 60% said “Yes” to this basic query.  However, Langer’s results improved even more dramatically when she rephrased the question as, “Excuse me, I have five pages.  May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”  Even though the “reason” given in this scenario was essentially bogus, Langer’s positive response rate shot up to 93%.

If you want people to do something for you – in this case, get to a “Yes” response – give them a reason to do it.  For an even stronger impact, use the word “because” in your request, as this word alone is strong enough to trigger a behavioral sequence that eventually leads to a “Yes” answer.

Strategy #3 – Create scarcity

There’s no arguing with the fact that scarcity is a powerful motivator.  Just think about how your heart starts to race and your palms start to sweat when you’re afraid that you might miss out on a deal you’re interested in.  Hell, companies like Groupon and Living Social have made a killing on this concept by releasing only a limited number of deals on any given day.

Scarcity can be introduced to your interactions in a number of different ways, whether you limit the number of products you’ll sell, the time during which you’ll offer a special promotion or even your availability for potential dates.

However, one thing to steer clear from is introducing artificial scarcity – that is, scarcity that doesn’t really exist.  We’ve all seen sales letters online that promise “limited time offers” and “limited quantities sold,” only to come back months later and see the same sales copy listed unchanged on the page.

If you’re going to use scarcity as a tactic for getting to “Yes,” stick to your guns.  Make your promotions truly special and offer them for a limited time only.  Believe me, your buyers will respond!

Strategy #4 – Encourage reciprocity

Another technique for getting to “Yes” is the idea of reciprocity – that is, the psychological gimmick that “I scratched your back, now you scratch mine.”  Human beings tend to hate being in one another’s debt, so if we feel like someone has gone out of their way to help us, we feel naturally compelled to even the score in some way.

This is one of the many reasons that you see websites offering free products to their visitors.  It isn’t just altruism – it’s also predicated on the idea that giving a reader a free product leaves them in your debt and interested in finding a way to pay you back (preferably through actual product sales).

Again, this technique can be introduced in a number of different ways in a number of different scenarios, but it should be used carefully.  Being too obvious in the fact that you’re helping the people in your life so that you can collect on some perceived debt later doesn’t just destroy your credibility – it’s unlikely to be effective in the long run.

Strategy #5 – Offer social proof

Finally, keep in mind that humans tend to be social creatures – which means that we tend to look at what the crowd is doing before making our own decisions.

You can capitalize on this instinct in your personal and business negotiations by offering social proof.  If you’re a business owner, testimonials from past clients or contact information from references give potential buyers the social proof that others have used your products or services and liked them.  If you’re using this strategy to get a date, having a good friend make your introductions gives potential partners another reference point that will vouch for you.

Really, getting to the “Yes” answers you want in life isn’t that difficult – as long as you maintain a basic understanding of human psychology and the way these ideas can be applied in practice.  Give the techniques described above a try, see which ones come most naturally to you and then hone your skills in this arena so that your persuasive statements come across as confidently as possible.

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