By Alice Tang
Growing and nurturing your network requires constant practice, and savvy advisors understand that positive client relationships can create a rich source of opportunity when it comes to referrals.
While asking for a referral can be nerve-wracking, it can also lead to exciting opportunities you otherwise may not have discovered and allows you to build community by opening the door for you to make referrals in return. In addition, finding ways to make the ask more comfortable while respecting boundaries builds trust and creates a win-win for everyone involved.
Ask Directly, With Confidence
Using a powerful phrase like “Yes and no are both good answers” can relieve the pressure of “making the ask” for both parties. It can work for the more significant sales questions as well as the connections and exchanges that arise in networking situations.
For example, you can ask, “Are you ready to invest this amount of time or money?” or, “Can we schedule a call to explore what a strategic partnership might look like?” or “Can I introduce you to someone I know who may be a good fit?”
For any proposition, big or small, I follow it with: “Yes and no are both good answers.” By giving the other person complete freedom of choice, they are more likely to respond positively. You prioritize your relationship over the business situation at hand, which further strengthens your connection.
Putting yourself out there with an extensive proposal may make you feel vulnerable, but it opens doors to more significant opportunities than playing it safe ever will. In these moments, using this powerful phrase can squash the fear of rejection and remind yourself that “no” is a good answer.
At the very least, you will gain valuable insight for the next conversation, helping you refine your process, your request, or your proposal. This phrase can also help you sense if there may be a conflict in your conversation. Rather than shying away, this phrase helps diffuse any discord so that you can confidently open an honest discussion to find solutions that work for everyone.
Ease The Decision-Making Stress
Very few people like feeling pressured to make a rushed decision; therefore, utilizing both yes and no answers allows your connection to focus on what’s important to them in this decision without worrying about disappointing you.
It reassures the client that you are not looking for a quick win, but you are serious about following through with whatever arrangement works best for your connection.
Get Clear Answers
One of the most significant advantages of “yes and no” is that it helps you avoid the “maybe.” If you’ve ever had a potential client or partner tell you “I’ll think about it,” you know how it feels to be in limbo: there’s no guarantee when they will be ready to revisit the conversation, and they may or may not share why they aren’t yet prepared to commit. The worst-case scenario is that they never respond, and you are left without any indication of why.
The funny thing about “Yes and no” is that people hate saying no, so they are more likely to share the specific reasons they aren’t 100% on board. Even if the answer is “I’d like to, but…” or “Yes, on one condition,” you have made it safe for the other person to explore those hesitations with you rather than keeping them to themselves. And finally, if it is a flat-out “no,” your relationship is still intact as you’ve already established that you’re okay with both answers.
There’s a big caveat to using “Yes and no,” and it’s that you have to use it responsibly. I recommend reviewing any notes from past calls before a meeting to determine what asks are appropriate for the relationship you have built. The phrase is not a loophole for making the most audacious requests – if your requests are one-sided or don’t consider the context of the relationship, it will not work as intended and may erode rather than build your relationship.
Remember, a “no” is less of a judgment about you and your offering – it’s a reflection of the other party’s priorities, ability and willingness to follow through. You want to create a good match for their time and energy and if now isn’t the best time to start working together.
No rarely means no forever – it’s more “no for now,” and if you follow up with questions to learn more, you’ll likely be able to find opportunities in the future that can create win-win scenarios for you both. Practice using this phrase and discover the new miracles in your daily conversations—you and the other party will feel even more connected.
About the author
Alice Tang, ChFC®, MIM, is Vice President and Partner at BPG Wealth Management. She has been in the financial services industry for more than 20 years, and is a 16-year MDRT member with a Top of the Table qualification.