Getting to yes, by empowering the client to say NO

“Every no I hear gets me closer to a yes”

Mark Cuban

Most of us have been trained to ask for yes questions, guide your client down a path of yes questions until you get the big yes in the end. But is that the most efficient way to get people to say yes in the end, when it really matters?

No, is not the big bad word we have been made to believe. If you think about what is behind the no, you will start to understand the power behind the word and will start to learn that no;

  • Alters the conversation
  • Starts the negotiation
  • Is the gateway to yes

In his book entitled “Never Split The Difference”, Author Chris Voss, tells us that in a client relationship, no really means

  • I am not yet ready to agree
  • You are making me uncomfortable
  • I do not understand
  • I don’t think I can afford it
  • I want something else
  • I need more information
  • I want to talk it over with someone else

If we see no as the starting point of the negotiation, our entire thought process changes and we will not avoid it but will seek for questions that will create no answers.

Chris Voss goes on to define the word yes into 3 categories;

  • Counterfeit
  • Confirmation
  • Commitment

Counterfeit is just like it sounds. It’s not really what it means, there is something behind the yes, that the client does not want to say, Yet.

Confirmation is to clarify something but is not anywhere near the commitment yes that we are longing for.

Commitment yes is the goal. It is the word that matches a desire to change, to act.

Marketing 101 teaches that we all have created a protection mechanism from the what the world is throwing at us. If you can picture a couple that just got married walking down a sidewalk after a wedding and people from both sides were throwing rice. What is the couple doing? They are covering their faces; they need to protect themselves from being pummeled from the rice.

In a way that is us, every single day. It is estimated that every day we each receive about 5,000 impressions from marketers telling us that we need what they are selling. Their message is that there is something wrong with us that only their product can fix. The only way we can survive this daily gauntlet is to raise our arms and protect ourselves.

We do this by using any means necessary to feel protected. The word yes is one of those tools. The word no, however, empowers us, it gives us the pause from the onslaught to process what is coming at us. Because just as real as the 5,000 daily impressions are, the fact that we want to better ourselves and some of those impressions may just be just what we want. The word no, give us the opportunity to ask questions, to negotiate, even if it’s with ourselves.

Jim Camp from his book; “Start with No”, teaches that we need to “Give your client the right to say no”, and do so early in the process.

The method of getting yes, yes and yes, wears the client out. By the time we hear no, the client is tired and in no mood to pause, they want it to end. By getting to a no early on, allows the client to process the possibility of saying yes. How would it change their life, would it be worth the price etc.

Both these books I mentioned are well worth the read and are both available on Audible.


SBO Advocates


Never Split the Difference, by Chris Voss

Starting with No, by Jim Camp