“I say ‘Yes’ a lot”. This was the Executive Editor of The New York Times, Dean Baquet, when asked about his management style, on a UK radio programme last week. 
 
What a wonderful philosophy, I thought: to be able to hear those words from your boss on a regular basis – how empowering. And maybe it’s an essential approach when you’re working with top creatives – journalists and feature writers at The New York Times.  
 
But it also occurred to me that in order to say ‘yes a lot’ must mean at least two things. The clarity of the overall vision/context; that everyone understands where we’re going and why.  And second, the trust levels between the two parties; if you say yes to me it means you trust me. Overall, perhaps it means that people are in tune with each other and with what needs to happen. Genuine teamwork, maybe?
 
And then I thought how could we get our prospects and customers to say ‘yes’ more often? Perhaps the answer lies in the question to each of us ‘when would you say ‘yes’ to a potential supplier?’ When the supplier is completely clear about what you want, and why, and you trust him/her to do what needs to be done? 
 
Is it as simple as that? Probably not, but if those two factors of clarity and trust are missing then there’s surely little chance of a successful outcome. 
 
One of the keys to successful business presenting which we’ve realised over the years is to start with the prospect’s Vision, rather than 15 minutes of us sharing how many offices we have, how good our people are, and a photo of our HQ in the USA! Yes, the credibility is important, it’s part of the trust factor, but that’s not what’s important at the beginning. 
 
But playing the prospect’s vision back to them means that we must be clear what that is. Only after the prospect is convinced that we know what they want, in their terms, and why it’s important to them, will they begin to explore the next question, ‘do I trust you to do the work?’. 
 
How do we discover what the prospect’s vision is and why it’s important? Easy to talk about; not so easy to do. My suggestion is first to have a genuine interest in the prospect, ask some great questions, and then, actually, listen to the answers.
 
So if you’ve got a pitch going on right now, or about to go into one, my invitation today, is to just check that you’re clear what the prospect wants, and why that’s important. And then, why should they trust you? What could you point to that would give them that reassurance?
 
(And if you’d like some help with that then do get in touch – email or phone +44 7889 167 486.) 
 
Then you may find, like Dean Baquet, they’re also saying ‘yes’ a lot!
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