As I run my own business I am selling things.  I sell my time, my knowledge, my expertise, my products. That means I engage in a sales process with my clients, moving them towards saying yes and buying what I have to sell. I’ve been on a variety of courses and read self-help books to aid my success in this area.

One of the bits of information that I’ve picked up is that it can take up to 7 contacts to get to the yes, to actually make the sale. That might mean a phone call, followed by a brochure, followed by a letter, followed by a meeting and so on. What can happen is that people give up before they get to 7 and the sale is lost. Persistence is a great ally in the sales role.

I think that we can learn a lot from this for our own personal development. If you want something and you are in negotiation with yourself or someone else over it then here too, perhaps, it takes 7 contacts before you get to yes. Maybe it takes that much evidence to convince either yourself or the other person, that what you want is a good idea.

If you are negotiating with your boss for a pay rise how many contacts have you had? How many different bits of evidence have you provided to support your case? How many different ways have you asked? Have you got testimonials from other people to say how valuable you are? Have you got a strategy for how you are going to get them to say yes?

Maybe you are trying to convince yourself it’s a good idea to look for a new job; perhaps you’re not confident about it being a good idea. How many people have you discussed this with? What jobs are out there, have you actually looked? What factors will be important in the new job? What are your reasons for wanting to move on from your existing role? Have you done a list of pros and cons for a new versus the existing job? How much evidence do you think you need to convince yourself of it being a good idea to look for a new job?

Are trying to persuade your partner to move house? What tools have you used to do this? Have you made a strong case for the benefits of the move and the new house? Have you found answers to all their potential objections? What are the actual down-sides and how will you mitigate them? How can you seek testimonials for the new place – can you find out what the neighbours are like, the quality of the local schools, access to sports facilities or public transports? What’s important to your partner in terms of a house location and cost? How can you supply arguments around their priorities?

Its all too easy to become disheartened and to give up.  But you do believe in your case and you have the determination to succeed.  You can get to 7 and you can get to yes.  What are you selling today? Is it your ideas, experience or expertise, time, resources, knowledge or something else? What’s your strategy? What evidence will you need? What’s important to the other side? Who will support your case? Where will your testimonials come from?

Dr Sue Hewitt

Sue runs the full range of Springboard Consultancy programmes, including training trainers. She work internationally delivering personal and leadership development programmes with specialist expertise in working with scientists and academics and developing women and mature staff.


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Views expressed by the writer are not necessarily the views of the Springboard Consultancy Ltd

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