Imagine for a moment that you’re a brand new salesperson and you’ve been tasked with selling a $200 million piece of machinery within the next sixty days.  You would likely be totally overwhelmed and not know where to start.  If you went to your boss for advice, you would likely get a surprising answer: “Forget about selling the machinery.  Just get to the next ‘yes’.”

When launching a large initiative like an overhaul of the Code of Conduct, there can be so much to do and so many people to engage that the task can seem overwhelming.  When the stakes are high for an important project, it is easy to feel crushing pressure. This is especially true when the project is highly visible at the company. 

Instead of getting overwhelmed, just focus on getting to the next yes.

How this Strategy Works in Sales

Let’s go back to our sales task.  When you map out the road to victory, you decide that your first job is to identify and then cold-call 30 potential customers.  The next goal will be to get a spot on the prospect’s calendar to discuss the product.  Thereafter, you’ll need a video conference to show the product and see if there is interest.  The next job will be to get the client to request a proposal.  After that, there’s contract negotiation, then the final sale. 

What should you focus on?  That’s right – identifying 30 potential customers and having at least one say yes to the calendar invite.  The big win needs to be the next win, which is simply a calendar slot.

How to Use this Strategy in Compliance

We all know we need the “buy-in” of the top management.  Think about the words “buy-in” – they reflect selling.  Getting buy-in first requires getting to the first yes.

Let’s say you are tasked with implementing a third-party due diligence program.  This is a major initiative that will require fundamental changes to how business gets done.  If you look at the whole project at once, it will be daunting.  There’s scoping of the project, obtaining software (if you’re lucky!), creating your risk-based approach, deciding on the workflow process, training the business on the workflow process, communicating the importance of the process, and then implementing the process. Whew! 

Instead of focusing on creating the whole thing at once, think about the next yes.  Perhaps you choose to focus on obtaining software.  Talk to several companies, watch the demos, then focus on getting a yes from the CEO for the budget to buy the software.  Focus only on getting to the next yes, not the entire project.  Once you’ve got the yes to buy the software, focus on getting a yes from leaders agreeing to send out a communication you’ve written about the program. 

When you get overwhelmed, simply ask yourself, “What is the next yes that I need?”  This focus will clear away the clutter and allow you to strategically hone in only on what comes next.