Improving Your Yes Rate!

(CRM Magazine – August 18, 2009)

If you are getting more no's than yes's when asking others for support, resources or important agreements, heads-up. You might consider reversing the pattern! First, let's check your yes rate. Thinking of the last requests that you have made of others, a colleague, boss or customer (or spouse), what percentage of their responses were yes versus no? Your answer is your yes rate. If your yes rate is above 95%, congratulations! You can use this information to reinforce what you're doing right, and to use as a coaching tool for others!

Any yes rate below what you consider to be an optimum percentage, could impact what you want to achieve in your business or personal life. So, assessing your yes rate is definitely worthy of your time and consideration.

Here's the good news: you can easily and effectively improve your yes rate by using a collaborative conversation approach, and by understanding and speaking to an individual's or group's most important yes factors and no factors.

In planning for and conducting that important conversation, know why someone would say yes – their yes factors – then provide information that promotes their saying yes. Know why someone would say no, why they are unable or unwilling to say yes – their no factors – then prepare for and manage the obstacle in order to minimize or eliminate a potential no response.

Ever notice that some people just seem to have the knack for asking for and getting yes from their boss, colleagues, customers, and even spouses? They know exactly what they need to achieve in the conversation, they ask for it and more often than not, they get it. One might even think these people are gifted at birth and have an innate talent of asking and receiving! Not true.

To give credit where credit is due, some people do seem to have that special way about them – you know that charming demeanor when speaking to a customer about a price increase that emanates an aura of, "Of course you understand the value of what we do and how the cost is justified." Although, that might not work all the time, there's a lot to be said for being that confident. And, you've got to admit that's a much more powerful approach than "I know this cost increase doesn't make sense, especially now, but that's the best I can do."

Whether you consider your approach to be charming, customer centric, or not, what is most important and what is always important when asking others for support is how you communicate and how you manage the conversation. And that has little to do with having or not having a charming personality.

In fact, we endear ourselves and more easily gain other people's respect and support when, before ever asking for their support, resources, or agreements that we first understand and speak to their needs and situation. It's a collaborative approach. Of course, no one is saying you can't be charming too!

Some of us naturally seek to have collaborative conversations by asking and listening in order to better understand others. Some of us have the tendency to tell and explain with the intent to be understood. And, if you're real good, you do both well and at the right time in your conversation.

A major benefit of having a collaborative approach? They will be more inclined to agree with you and say yes, a "mini-yes," to important agreements in your conversation. Examples of a mini-yes they could agree to before you ask for the needed support or customer agreement would be:

  • Yes, the purpose of the conversation or meeting has business or personal value to them
  • Yes, you have addressed the areas of mutual or quantifiable gain, their Yes Factors
  • Yes, you have recognized and managed any potential issues, their No Factors
  • Yes, to your recommendation that is based on your conversation objective and conversation
  • Yes, to the next best action to take based on the conversation.

It's so much easier to gain that final Yes agreement when you have been given a mini-yes to other important agreements throughout the conversation.

It's a guarantee: When you improve your yes rate, you will more easily achieve your individual and organizational potential!

Arlene Johnson is founder and president of Sinequanon Group, Inc., a global consultancy specializing in executive leadership and change performance. Johnson is author of the new book SUCCESSMAPPING® Achieve What You Want . . .Right Now! (Emerald Book Company/2009). For more information, please visit or email Johnson at


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