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How Small Yeses Can Lead To Big Sales

Psychology is a core part of sales. Everything from your clothes to your tone of voice can affect your client's opinion of you. Sales psychology doesn't stop there, though. There are dozens of little-known tricks you can use to affect your client's decisions.

The "yes-loading" strategy is one of the most effective sales psychology techniques. It relies on the fact that people are more likely to say "yes" to big questions if they follow a series of smaller questions. It also gives them less chances to refuse your pitch before it's over.

To put this into perspective, consider how others try to sell you in your daily life. For example, have you ever sat through a telemarketer's whole pitch because they kept asking yes-or-no type questions? More than likely, you probably felt like you couldn't bow out of the call because you had no opening to do so: that's part of this rule in action.

This strategy is easy to employ and statistically proven to work. However, it still takes some pre-planning to get it right. Let’s dive deeper into the strategy behind using small yeses to increase sales effectiveness:

Know Your Big "Yes"

You need to keep your questions focused for this strategy to be effective.

You must first identify what your big ask is. If you skip this step, you run the risk of wasting time with useless questions. And once your client thinks you're wasting their time, the sale is dead.

Take into account the seriousness of your big ask as well. In general, the more you want from your client, the longer you should try to engage them.

Know Why They Would Say No

Clients tend to have their guard up when dealing with salespeople. But you can get around their guard by beating their refusal before they even think of it.

For example, let's say you're trying to sell an accounting solution to another company. They might decline because they have one already. So, one of your first steps might be to find out what features your solution has that theirs lacks. Then, tie those features into a problem that your client is currently facing.

You might say, "Did you hear about the security breach (client's competing company) had?" When they answer "Yes", talk about the security features your program has to protect against this possibility. Another good question to ask here is, "If I could help you prevent a similar problem, would you hear me out?"

Using this technique, they're already being conditioned to say yes, and you haven't even offered a real product yet.

Create Steps Up To the Big Yes

Patience is a virtue that most salespeople lack.

It's tempting to get right to the nitty-gritty of the sale but you must steer away from that temptation in order for this method to work. Start with small questions with guaranteed "yes" answers and ease your way in. Remember, the whole strategy breaks if your client says "no" to you.

But there's a balance: you can't ask too many questions or you'll become a pest. Figuring out the proper amount of questions depends on individual prospect interactions.

Settle for 3 or 4 questions if you're doing a middle-of-the-workday phone call. If you're at a relaxed mixer-style conference, take your prospect on a journey of small yeses.

Check Your Attitude

There's a very popular, and very wrong, method of using this strategy, notoriously employed by charity groups and annoying telemarketers. They'll load their "yes" questions with moral value. They might begin a conversation with, "Do you want to keep your family safe?" or "Do you believe children should have clean water?".

Questions like these can be really frustrating for clients. First, they’re coercive. They feel like they have to say "yes" or risk being seen as a bad person. It’s important to note that making your client feel pressured or attacked doesn't make them trust you more.

Second, it makes the whole interaction feel fake. Effective salespeople try to build genuine connections with clients and questions like these have no place in their conversations. They're blatant sales pitches.

Fake-feeling questions like these get fake answers from your clients. And a fake interaction rarely results in a real sale.

The Introductory "Yeses" Can Really Be Anything

The steps leading up to the big "yes" don't all have to be related.

One of the easiest ways to start up the ladder is with simple questions. Think along the lines of "Can I offer you a seat?" or "Do you have a minute?" This helps to frame your “yes” questions as parts of a conversation and not a sales pitch.

Confirmation questions are an easy way to get it the ball rolling. They don't give the client a reason to say "no", and they're also an organic part of conversation.

Keep it simple with more confirmation questions, like the following:

  • "Hi, your name is so and so right?"
  • "You work for [fill in the blank] company?"
  • “Are you enjoying working in this role?”

Simple, impersonal questions like these just made your client say yes three times in just a few moments!

Try a Natural Approach

Framing your questions naturally is the true art form here.

If you're too loose with your “yes” questions, you'll never get to the point. If you move too fast, you'll sound like a question-spewing robot. Ideally, you’ll earn your yeses through a natural back and forth conversation.

So become a conversationalist. Figure out where you want the conversation to go beforehand and travel there organically.

Phone sales is a different story. It’s hard to be natural when you’re selling things to someone you've never met.

So, be unnatural! One of the most effective phone strategies is starting off with a "yes" question so out of left field that your client wants to see where this conversation is going. Remember, whether the aforementioned telemarketer actually sold you anything, you still heard him or her out.

Final Thoughts: Small Yeses Can Land You Huge Sales

There are almost too many psychological sales tricks to count. However, working up to a big yes with several small yeses is one of the simplest and well-tested methods. It works everywhere from Tupperware parties to roundtables with the business execs.

It's also pretty effective at business conferences like Dreamforce—just make sure you practice the technique beforehand. Dreamforce is full of people that work in sales. They'll definitely see through a weak attempt!

Improve your success with this sales technique by pairing it with sales productivity tools that get the job done.

Our enterprise scheduling feature helps you get to “yes” when it comes to setting a meeting time with a prospect, while our attachment tracking feature helps you understand when someone is ready to say “yes” to your proposal.

Maddy Osman
Maddy Osman

5+ years of content writing for companies such as Cirrus Insight, Automattic, HubSpot, Sprout Social, Bluehost, Wix, and more. My background in WordPress web design contributes to a well-rounded understanding of SEO and how to connect brands to relevant search prospects.

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