Persuasion comes down to one thing: getting others to say “yes,” or better still: “Hell, yeah!” to a proposal, an idea, or a request.
My goal whenever I approach people with my business offers, is to create an offer that is so good that it’s almost impossible to reject it.
And a powerful persuasion technique involves consciously structuring statements and questions in a way that makes the other person agree with you. When Steve Jobs declared to an audience that the Macintosh was “Insanely great!” who would dare disagree with him?
I have a friend named Peter who is one of the most persuasive people I have ever seen. One of the reasons why is because he often ends his statements with:
“Would you agree?” The other person is almost always inclined to respond with “yes.”
I learned some very interesting persuasion techniques from Chris Voss, a former FBI negotiator when I took his master class. One of his most effective techniques is he repeats the last few words that a person said.
For example, someone tells him that he likes she likes puzzles.
He’ll reply with “oh so you like puzzles?”
She says yes, and he says “what do you like about puzzles?”
“Well it challenges your mind.”
“Challenges your mind?”
And then of course she says yes.
And so on it goes, by repeating these questions back to the person, evoking this state of compliance, he’s able to get more and more information and to get the other person to open up to him.
Expert car salesmen understand the power of the word “yes.” They thrive on it. They use the principle of forced compliance on unwitting buyers as soon as they walk into the showroom. They’ll start their prospects on what’s called a “Yes ladder,” by asking questions that are impossible to say no to, such as: “It sure is lovely weather today, isn’t it?”
Each “yes” the person gives leads to a bigger “yes,” and before long they’re agreeing to take a test drive. Massive rapport building happens, and before long they ask a “closing question” and the prospect agrees to a “puppy-dog close,” where they drive the car home to try for a while without any risk.
Solicitors outside of grocery stores often apply this technique too: instead of saying,
“Would you like to donate to such and such organization?” they start by saying “Do you think climate change is a threat?” If the person agrees, they then ask two or three other questions, each a bit more bold than the last.
If you want to get someone to say “Yes” to a large request, such as making a donation, its far more effective to gradually work your way up to that point. Start with a small, ambiguous question and structure each subsequent question in a way that makes it easy for them to agree. Then when someone does say “yes,” reward them. This creates a “positive feedback loop” and reinforces the behavior.
How to Use the “Yes Ladder”
Here is how the technique works:
1. You prompt the person to answer
2. They say “yes”
3. You appreciate their agreement and use it as your reason for moving the relationship further (towards a desired outcome)
4. Repeat steps 1-3 with subsequent questions
Because they’ve responded yes to three or four of your previous questions, you and the other person have arrived at a state of near-total consensus. This is the art of rapport building. You’ve also established the law of commitment and consistency – a so-called “weapon of influence” – which observes that people act consistently with the things they commit to, as breaking commitments is considered a social taboo.
Whenever you do this in a sales situation, or in a negotiation, or anytime that you are trying to persuade someone, you are able to work your way up to a position to ask a closing question – and get the “Yes” that you wanted all along.
I always like to say that you want to create offers that are impossible for people to reject. So you may have an initial opening offer which is highly tempting, and as you further develop the relationship, you are able to create more powerful offers, such as getting them to sign up for your newsletter or take conversion on your website.
So that’s it for this one and I hope that you understand the principle behind this because it’s a very powerful technique. Use it responsibly. 🙂
This post was from the “Partner and Profit” course @ the School of Growth Hacking. If you like this article, you’ll love the course with 50+ lessons like this one. Use the discount code “leaderme$#2023” to get 20% off the entire course.