The Only 2 Answers You Need to Figure Your Next Move
Success is sometimes as simple as asking the right questions.
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Several years ago, a long-time friend and successful entrepreneur gave me two pieces of advice that stuck with me for years. It was October of 2010, and I had just launched my own consultancy but was wise enough (or just plain cowardly enough) to be looking for a day job; something to keep the creditors at bay while I established a clientele. My friend and I met for lunch where he proceeded to ask me about the outcome of a recent job interview. "Did you get the job?" he asked me. I shrugged noncommittally and said, "I don't know yet."
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He got very serious for a moment and then "I don't care if it's a job interview, a sales call, or even a romantic overture," he said with just a hint of playful glint in his eye. "There are two questions that you should ask before you leave a negotiation: 1) what reservations do you have about moving forward with this?; and 2) what would I need to do in the first 90 days for you to believe you've made a good decision?"
He explained that by getting the answer to the first question, you both open up a dialogue where you ease the other person's concerns and an understanding of where you stand. If the person just doesn't think there's a fit you can relax knowing that no matter how persuasive your argument is, the other party just isn't interested and you can move on to greener pastures.
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The beauty of asking the second question is that it forces the other party to envision you, not only getting the job, sale or date, but being successful in doing so. Subconsciously they have already cast you in the role and are already envisioning you successfully delivering on whatever it is you're promising.
Asking what you need to do to ensure that the other party is successful helps you to exude confidence without seeming smug or presumptuous. You reassure the other party that you will most certainly deliver, but you want to know what they need to see to make them comfortable.
The key to having this technique achieve success is to truly want to know the answer, and to listen to what you are being told both with the words they use and the words they don't. Listen for cues that a decision has already been made and you were invited in as a courtesy; the way you react to that particular response can make all the difference between a one-time appointment or being invited back for consideration for other opportunities.
Related: 8 Steps to a Successful Sales Call
Success is what you make of it so the next time you've got that sales call or business meeting that's likely to take your business to the next level remember to follow the advice given to me by someone far smarter and ask those two simple questions.