Can one word make the difference between a yes and no response?
We use lots of phrases to illicit a response from a prospect, whether in person, on the phone or via email. Would you like to make an appointment? Are you interested in a free water test? Do you want to save money on your electric bill? Will you make a donation to my favorite charity?
These questions include verbs that characterize the respondent as someone who would like to, is interested in or wants to do something. These are yes/no questions and typically, they generate a no response.
Studies have shown that the phrase “Are you willing”? or “would you be willing” can generate a better response.
According to Elizabeth Stokes, professor of Social Interaction at Loughborough University, the word “Willing” works best to bring people to yes in situations where they care about the type of person they are and where they’ve resisted doing the things you’re trying to make them do. People are “willing” to say yes to things that make them feel, reasonable or altruistic, regardless of whether they’re talking to someone face-to-face, or communicating something in writing.
- “Would you be willing to see how you can improve your children’s health?
- “Would you be willing to learn how solar power can save you thousands of dollars on your electric bill?”
- “Would you be willing to spend five minutes to help save our planet?”
- “Would you be willing to sit down with me to talk about your legacy”
This simple shift to the word willing changes the emphasis from what the other person wants you to do to the kind of person they are.
Try to turn a no into a yes by asking your prospect if they are willing to do something, rather than asking if it would interest them. That is the power of willing.