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Getting to a Yes Means Planning for a Yes

Whether it's getting an employee, client or a vendor to say yes to something you need, planning for a positive outcome can help lead to success.
June 21, 2017

At the end of the day, most everything we do in business focuses on getting to a yes with someone on something. Getting a potential client to say yes, getting a supplier to say yes, getting an employee to say yes—these are just a few of the daily negotiations business owners must work through. 

In my work, I see many of these owners try to get that yes without a plan for how they're going to make it happen. I'll share three simple steps that will help you plan for getting to a yes and increase your chances for success.

Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail

We've all heard this old adage a million times. It's important to remember this when your goal is getting to a yes. Sometimes that yes happens without a plan, however I've found that it is much more likely to happen when you are prepared and feel in control.

Perhaps you're thinking, "Ugh. I've got to get to so many yeses in a day, I don't have time to plan for every single one of them. I'll just wing it and hope for the best." Of course that's always an option, and may even be the option your competitors are choosing.

Consider making your initial ask in a way that shows you've done your homework, that you understand them. Then stop talking and listen.

But what if you have a plan that is so simple, it can fit on the back of an index card? What if you could run through this plan in five to 10 minutes for many of your daily negotiations and improve your skills for getting to a yes? What if you could share this plan with the rest of your team and strengthen their skills, too? If that sounds like something that could be useful to you, keeping reading!

A Simple "Getting to a Yes" Plan

There are three steps to this plan and each is equally important, so don't be tempted to skip one. When I use this plan, I create a quick outline, using each step as a header. Then I jot down quick notes under each header. I can do this on note cards, legal pads, even the back of napkins. The important thing is to write it down so you can see how your plan flows together. Ready to get started?

Step 1: Preparation

Before you meet your potential client, know this: You’re ultimately making your case for getting to a yes. Ask the question "What's the best way for me to get what I want from the people I'm about to talk to?" Draw on all that you know about them. Consider the following questions:

  • What do they want? 
  • What would motivate them to say yes? 
  • What would cause them to say no? 
  • What are their most likely objections? 
  • How will you answer them? 
  • What do you have to do to win them to your point of view?

The secret to this step is focusing your preparation on the other people in the conversation. Your reasons for wanting a yes aren't interesting to anyone but you, so never forget "the fastest way to get what you want, is to give someone what they want." Discover what their reasons are for wanting a yes, too, and you could significantly increase your odds of making it happen.

Step 2: Execution

Part of solid execution is choosing the best timing, location and communication method for those you are asking. Once the stage is set, focus on them and make your case to your audience. Consider making your initial ask in a way that shows you've done your homework, that you understand them. Then stop talking and listen.

Being able to listen is the most critical piece of this step. Even if you mess up on the initial part of the conversation, stop talking and listen. They may give you all the information you need to regroup and respond in a way that shows you want them to get what they want, too. If you can't get to a yes right then and there, hit pause and agree to come back to the conversation.

Step 3: Follow Up

There are two types of follow up for this plan:

Follow up when you get to yes. Your follow up solidifies their decision to say yes. Thank them. Remind them of what they are getting in return for saying yes. Confirm in their minds that it was the right decision.

Follow up when you haven't gotten to yes, yet. By doing this, you're helping to keep the conversation open and resist the temptation to bulldoze your point of view. (If you're the boss, you may have to force the situation, but hold off on that as long as you can.) Ask more questions. Learn more about what they want. Stay focused on discovering what they need in order to say yes. Obtain a commitment to have another conversation.

With practice, you can run through these steps in your mind when getting to a yes needs to happen quickly or an unexpected opportunity presents itself. Whether you have a few minutes, a few hours or a few days, using this outline can help you feel prepared and more in control of the outcome. And when you master getting to a yes as an outcome, the success of your business can improve.

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Photo: Getty Images