Just as there are clearly missteps you can make when you hear “yes,” there also are actions you can take that will help remove any trace of doubt that may linger with your target.
Five Moment-of-Yes Do’s
1. Immediately shake hands.
I know, it seems obvious. But you’d be shocked by how many people miss this important moment. For many cultures, dating back to ancient Greece, shaking hands has remained customary for everything from meeting and greeting to saying thank-you and offering congratulations. A handshake also signals the completion of an agreement. Even if I’ve worked with a person for years on a big agreement, I always shake hands to affirm the commitment. Although it may be executed differently in different countries, shaking hands is almost always the socially acceptable thing to do (though, in certain cultures, it’s a good idea to check — especially in male-to-female agreements).
2. Offer a reinforcing comment.
While shaking hands, it’s critical to also offer some sort of agreement-reinforcing comment: “This is going to be an exciting project.” “We will do great work together.” “Here’s to accomplishing important work.” Avoid statements such as “Well, here’s hoping it works!” or “Thank you for the opportunity; I hope I make you proud.” The objective here is to fill your target with confidence, not initiate buyer’s remorse or demonstrate that your pitching skills are stronger than your confidence.
3. Give a “next steps” overview.
Be absolutely clear on what will happen next: “Okay, so I’ll work with the legal department this afternoon to put the final details into an agreement. You’ll be deciding which budgets to use. And we’ll collaborate on the project’s announcement this afternoon. By this time tomorrow, we’ll be up and running.” In other words, determine who will handle the purchase order, who will draft the agreement and who is communicating what to others.
4. Make sure your target takes action.
In the example above, the target is given next-step responsibilities. That is intentional. Sometimes in the moment of “yes,” persuaders are so relieved to receive agreement that they take the focus on accountability off the target. Don’t create a “sit back and relax” experience for the target. You want him or her to take action: Make a phone call, provide a signature, send an email, review a document. Set something you and your target can agree on immediately, then schedule a follow-up session.
5. Go public.
Nobody wants to be considered a hypocrite. The majority of people want to perform consistently with their publicly stated ideas and positions. This can take many forms: letting just a few people around the lunch table know about the new agreement, a massive companywide memo or alerting the local and national media. Going public makes that “yes” official by naming those accountable and broadcasting the commitment.
Next time, we’ll cover how to create what I call “perpetual yes.”