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June 1, 2009

"No" is not an option (or never let them say "No")

When you ask somebody something they immediately try to think about the question. This is the basis of Socratic learning and Socratic conversation and is a very powerful dynamic when used correctly.

When you are running a seminar do not have somebody go around and ask everyone if there is something that you could be doing better, or if there is something missing. You think you are providing good customer focus, but what you are really doing is getting people to think negative thoughts about the seminar.

Your questions need to set up a dynamic where they have a choice of options that are favorable to the outcome you want.

"When should we meet next?" is better than "Do you want to meet again?"

"Whats the best way for us to proceed?" is better than "Should we proceed?"

And always make your intentions clear. You are looking for the opportunity to find a proving ground. A piece of work where you can prove your worth to them. Your goal, stated, is that you want to be working with them in ten years time. (Not just for ten months)

One way to help them to say yes is through options. For example:

Option 1. Your preferred route

Option 2. A choice that would be okay, but not your preferred option

Option 3. A long shot. The one they can rule out automatically and work their way closer to your preferred options.

Your questions need to provoke thought on outcomes that are desirable to you. Not dead ends. You want them to decide on something that continues the relationship, continues with the meetings and prospecting, or continues the engagements you have with them - not something that is going to cut everything off.

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