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Getting A 'Yes' From Clients
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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Bruce Kasanoff, author of a book titled Simplify the Future, recently authored a most intriguing article published on LinkedIn. Bruce says on his personal site that he helps “companies, and sometimes individuals, simplify the way they position themselves. Most of my work has an entrepreneurial bent; even when I work with large companies, my clients are typically the innovators in their organization.”

What really grabbed me in Bruce’s article, "Banish Indecision: Three Ways To Get To 'Yes'" was his comments about how to help clients say the “Yes” word.

He also brought up a very important point all of us flacks need to keep in mind when we make presentations to internal or external clients: People are, by nature, inclined to do nothing. Or. As Bruce terms it, “the status quo bias.”

So, if clients are naturally inclined to do nothing, even when clear advantages are pointed out in presentations that action should be taken and is a good thing to do, what’s a flack to do to obtain that magic “Yes” word? And, as Bruce notes at the beginning of his piece, “It's driving you crazy. No matter what you say or do, your client — or boss — won't make a decision, despite your best efforts.” Indeed, what is one to do?

Well, that job is about to get even harder. The world is, if you have not noticed, getting progressively more complex, making decisions even more complicated. If human nature is indeed true to itself, that means more people will simply resist complicated decisions by doing... yes, you guessed it... nothing!

Bruce offered three potential ways to get clients to make that “Yes” decision:

1. Simplify the decision making process. As he noted, “If you want other people to decide, make those decisions less complicated. If possible, reduce the number of options. Make sure there are clear distinctions between the options. For example, in a financial services arena, "Do you want the high risk/high return option or the low risk/modest return option?" is much better than a long-winded statement that talks about all of the individual investments of two complicated portfolios.”

2. Make the “Yes” as automatic as possible. How many of us have set up accounts to automatically renew or pay each month? This is more preferable than having to receive an email at a set time each month asking, “Do you want to extend your ‘X’ service?” Therefore, as flacks, we should try to get the client to agree to some sort of automatic replenishment program (that’s Bruce’s term) if we are providing a PR service for that client.

3. Present a single option or choice. How many times have we gone to a retail outlet to purchase a new piece of furniture, or media device, given our requirements or wishes to the sales associate, and then heard the sales associate say, “Most people I’ve talked to in your situation looking for a new ‘x’ choose Brand Y because it is a much better option”? As Bruce noted, the sales associate “is elevating a single option, effectively making the choice for his customers but allowing them to technically make the choice themselves.”

At the end of his piece, Kasanoff asked, “What else have you done to overcome the status quo bias?

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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