Do you need something from someone?
If you’re in sales; if you’re looking for a job; if you are seeking advice, money or anyone’s time for anything—then the answer is a definite ‘yes’.
Too often I ‘m approached by, or see others approached, by someone who communicates in a way that is not conducive to actually getting anything.
So how do you communicate effectively in order to get what you in fact want?
It all starts with showing your respondent that you are willing to be flexible and provide two-way value; then doing so without arm-twisting. By and large, people want to know ‘what’s in it for me?’ They don’t want to get duped, and they don’t want their valuable time squandered.
However, this isn’t just about spinning the conversation so you look like you are putting their needs first, which is altogether manipulative and often transparent.
Take, for example, a guy I knew who consistently talked about everything he was going to do, in a bend-over-backwards, too-good-to-be-true fashion. In the end, not only did he fail to deliver on his promises but he failed to even deliver on baseline standards. He wasn’t genuine—at least not genuine enough for it to transpire into follow-through. It’s no wonder people are rightfully very skeptical when someone comes on too strongly.
Instead, it’s about really looking for how an opportunity can bring value to both parties so the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
This has to be done in a sincere way—a way that means being willing to potentially concede some preferences if it means that the other party retains some of their preferences—whereby both sides get a deal about which they feel great. It’s the over-used and clichéd “win-win” but it’s real.
It might sound something like “I was looking for a venue that would be willing to look at options around a possible trade for advertising in exchange to a low- or no-charge room rental. Not sure if that would even be a good fit for you, might not be, but is it a conversation you’d be open to having?”
A couple things are happening here.
One is that it’s very no-pressure. The ideas to let the person know that you want to create a dialog (and why) and to be very open-ended about the outcome—even if said outcome is no deal. I once had a life-insurance guy try to sell me so hard and I knew there was no graceful way to get him to let me go. So I did what any backed-into-a-corner prospect would do, I avoided all of his calls. For months. Ask yourself, who won there?
A second thing is there are no surprises. Nothing is worse than when someone says, “I want to talk to you about X” and they sneak in “Y”. It’s an instant credibility-killer. I had someone ask me (as a board member) to meet with them about the nonprofit I served. When I arrived at the meeting, they tried to sell me a multi-level marketing phone system. At worst, I felt Shanghai-ed. At best, it was disingenuous. And we’ve never spoken since.
Be upfront with what you want, and how it *might* help them. But understand and communicate that you also know it might not be a fit—and that you are okay with that. Never over-sell or mislead.
Lastly, stress the conversation, not the outcome. To further confirm this at the start of the meeting I will stress that my feelings won’t be hurt if this doesn’t work out because I’m merely hoping for the opportunity to brainstorm. Too often we stress how we want things to end up which is the classic cart-before-the-horse. What’s worse is when the cart is before the horse, it’s incredibly difficult to steer.
Yes, we do want an ideal (particularly for us) outcome, but what we really want is someone who is relaxed enough to actually listen creatively and open-mindedly to what we have to say—and possibly even add more value. Stressing the conversation ensures that nobody feels too much pressure to live up to something they can’t provide or don’t have. When this happens, most people either ignore what’s being said or have already mentally declined before you show up.
Not good if you are trying want to make something happen.
Remember instead to use your words, tone and body language to make sure you keep your conversation free from unnecessary pressure or surprises. Convey flexibility and value while being unattached to the outcome. If you really want to get what you want, it starts with being open to helping someone get what they want.