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How to spot people's fake "yeses" when doing business



Had dinner with a client who owns an architectural firm yesterday, he shared how he had a major deal fallen through lately because of a "counterfeit yes".

Have you ever had a situation where the prospect sounded so promising and keen, but then backed out of the deal right before signing the contract, and then start dodging your phone calls, and you wondered…What went wrong?

And the worst part - your company has wasted so much time and manpower. You could have been negotiating with other prospects and making hundreds of thousands instead!

In most cases like this, there were never a deal, want to know why and how to avoid situations like this? Keep reading.


In negotiation, there are three types of yeses:

  • Counterfeit (the fake ones)

  • Confirmation

  • Commitment

When someone said yes to a deal, it could be any one of the above yeses, so how do you find out which one it is?

Let's use a real estate deal as an example, you've found a potential buyer and they seem very keen to buy the penthouse in your development.


The couple said "We love the location, the view and the interior, let's go ahead." - at this point, you have no idea if it was genuine, and here's what you do to test the yes (you need to test it at least twice to be sure it's a genuine yes)


Technique #1: Labeling

"It seems like you are happy with the location, view, price, leasehold and all the terms in the contract?"


If the prospect replied "yes" or explain further about what works for them or what needs to be adjusted before signing the contract, then you have a confirmation yes - Good sign.


Technique #2: Paraphrasing

"Great, just to make sure I am not missing out anything here, location, price, and terms are all good, and you are happy for us to send over the reservation sheet? Let me know if you have any other concerns."

If then the prospect still give you a yes, go ahead and send the contract - you now have a deal. If not, it's very likely that they have some hidden objections, and you need dig it out and resolve it to get the deal done.


These techniques are also highly applicable to personal life and daily negotiation situations, start practising today - life would become so much easier!


Reference: Never split the difference (Voss, 2016)

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