If I had a nickel for every time my mom told me “no but’s” when I was a kid, I could scuttle the work gig and go live on my own private island. But little did I know she was providing me with a great sales tool ingrained in my brain (inbrained?).I was asked today to give a presentation on a topic (humor in presentations, although it really doesn’t matter) for a program that did not have a target audience, had no agenda, didn’t have a date or place, and had essentially no value to me other than the ego boost to see my name on an agenda docket somewhere. Motivation was low, scheduling was tight, and to agree to it I would have had to invoke some serious changes on the parameters that I wasn’t sure I’d have access to. So I no butted.After piling on the platitudes and gratitudes for being selected (after all, it was “a friend of a friend told me their next door neighbor’s postman’s dog’s second cousin twice removed ex-wife’s stepson” who suggested I’d be a good speaker), I changed the rules of engagement and suggested a different approach with how to address the topic. Since I didn’t flatly turn down the request, but instead provided a solution to get this person off the hook (they had to fill the program) and also spread the wealth among a wider group who would relish the exposure (such as it is), there was giddiness on the other end of the line. In addition to simply filling the slot on the program, I went one step further, suggested another program within the theme and again had the solution with a guaranteed commitment from me (actually a group I belong to) before there was a realization that I had declined the original request. In fact, I’m not sure they ever noticed.The sales principle is pretty simple. If the solution is headed towards a resolution that is not acceptable, change the rules. Offer the solution and change the rules to meet your answer. Going above and beyond to offer more than the solution also gets points, and makes this blog a “value added” blog entry — two for the price of one.
If you don’t have the answer, change the question to one you do have the answer for.
Always offer more than is required.