Let’s face it, we all work hard to get to yes.

Getting to yes helps us improve our organizations; whether that means a grant approval, the board’s agreement on a strategic initiative, or a new client for your social enterprise, without yes, it’s tough to move forward.  We do this in many different ways, sometimes cajoling, sometimes begging, and sometimes through our own instinctual persuasive arguments.  Have you ever thought about your process?

A long time ago, I learned a valuable lesson…

That lesson was to handle an objection, before it becomes an objection.  In other words, anticipate how the person you are trying to persuade will react to your argument and develop an overcoming strategy in advance. Over the years, I’ve learned plenty of other lessons, many of them through trial and error while others have simply come out of a book.

So, while on the lookout for progressive ideas for informed nonprofit management, I found a really fascinating interview on getting to yes at Inc. magazine.  Social psychologist, Robert Cialdini, author of “Influence,The Psychology of Persuasion” has a new book: “Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade“.  I was naturally intrigued; you can find the interview by Inc. magazine’s president Eric Schurenberg here, it is worth the 30 minute watch!

Cialdini’s first book is mostly about why people make the decisions they make.  In researching dozens of sales and training programs, Cialdini discovered six universal principles that every successful influence profession employed.  I’ll bet you already know many of them: 1) Reciprocity, people want to say yes to those who have given them something first.  2) Relationships, liking the person who is making the ask is essential to agreement.  3) Authority, we prefer to say yes to experts; someone with credentials or recognized expertise.  4) Social proof, if we see that our peers are doing something, for instance using a particular product, we are more likely to join or want that product as well.  5) Scarcity, we want those things that are rare and unique, or customized for us.  6) Commitment and consistency, people tend to stay true to their word, especially when they have made their statements in public.  

Pre-suasion is all about preparation.

That is… Performing those actions that place people in the right state of mind, before your presentation.  The principles that Cialdini uncovers are those factors that leverage the power of prior attention:  1) What’s focal is causal, people tend to believe that because I’m paying attention to an action, it must be the cause of that action. 2) Begin with a mystery, because people naturally want to solve a mystery. 3) Counter arguments tend to be more powerful than arguments (ie: negative ads) they puncture credibility. 4) Environment can be an important pre-suader, (ie: if you want people to think in open expansive ways, take them outside, or put them in a room with lots of windows and high ceilings). 5) If people are placed in a mindset of togetherness, they are more helpful and cooperative.7) The last is the focusing illusion, nothing is as important as you think it is, as while you are thinking about it.

That’s why strategy starts with knowledge.

Understanding consumer needs, industry trends, environmental factors, and organizational elements facilitate the preparation for getting to yes. Call us to evaluate your case statement or your social enterprise value proposition in an effort to leverage these social science discoveries.