Why Sales Love Yes (And You Should, Too!)

All of us have been approached at least once on the street by a volunteer from an NGO or some other organization trying to grab our attention. Often, the volunteers are collecting money to do some good for the environment, animals or refugees.  All powerful messages that deserve our attention.

The other day I was shopping at my local grocery store and stopped by a volunteer from an NGO. Now, I cannot recall the name of the NGO, but I do remember the volunteer did a good job pitching the mission “to protect the rainforests in Africa” and why I should donate an amount of my choice every month to the NGO. I liked the mission, but I ended up not donating in that moment. This made me think, was this interaction a fail? How could the NGO have benefited from the 5 minutes the volunteer invested in building awareness for the mission, and the 5 minutes I invested as a customer in getting to know the NGO.


Lesson 1: Never leave without a next step

The first thing I have learned in my sales career is to never leave the client without a next step. If you have invested in educating or informing a client you have the opportunity to demand something in return. In the case of the NGO, the volunteer spent 5 minutes pitching, and received nothing in turn from me.

What she should have done when she realized that I was unwilling to donate, was to change her objective. She should have made my commitment smaller. At the end of the pitch I had invested 5 minutes of my own time, so I was obviously interested in the topic, and she would most likely get me to give her something that was of less valuable to me.

What I recommend is that she should have asked for my e-mail and contact info allowing the NGO to target me through a different channel. Marketers agree that exposure to a message consecutive times builds awareness and drives sales. If the NGO had taken my e-mail address they could have kept the communication lines open and potentially I would have been ready to donate when they had established a stronger relationship with me.

Lesson 2: Plan Your ‘YES’ Approach

To elaborate on the “Yes” approach, let me give you an example of another business that does face to face sales extremely well. You have probably fallen victim to their clever selling ways at the mall. They are selling hand cream and different beauty products. Typically, you will be approached by a salesperson asking for just 2 minutes of your time. A request that 1 out of 10 will agree to. She will take your hand and ask if it is okay that she applies some hand cream. You will feel obliged to say YES. She will then take you through a 3 step process of beauty treatment and for each step she will seek your confirmation: Can you see how well it works? No matter whether you see the result or not, you will out of courtesy answer “YES”. What she is doing is known as the “Three YESes”. A sales technique that implies that you will be more likely to say YES after having said yes 3 times. When the question come: Do you want to buy a set of products? You will feel very tempted to say YES. Furthermore, her sales technique builds an instant relationship. She is holding your hand, she is applying cream, and she is caring for you. The physical touch creates a natural level of trust, that will make you more likely to buy.

To conclude, never think of selling as a one-time transaction. Think of selling as a relationship you are building. Showcase your personable side, after all, people buy from other people. Approach the customer with a proposition, gauge their interest levels, and then plan your approach to convert them. Remember, at the end of the transaction, you should be in a position to demand something in return, however small or big it might be.