Music reality show magnate Simon Cowell is one of the most polarizing figures in entertainment - and also one of the most publically successful. VCs respect him, and his estimated $400 million net worth puts him on the top 10 most influential people in British culture.

Cowell just shared a priceless, appropriately blunt point, when he was interviewed on Oprah's Masterclass show:

When someone says, 'Yes', shut up!

Have you ever said "Yes" to something and the sales pitch just keeps going and going? You can't blame someone for cancelling the deal. I know I have. And when you keep talking, it isn't just nervousness that's showing. It's insecurity of the follow through.

Why shouldn't I?

Here's the thing: You seal the deal before you even open the mouth. As an independent consultant, coach and public speaker, I already communicate to my customer well before they contact me. The website, the social media and the reputation proceed me. Every customer is part of a self-selecting audience.

There's little convincing you can do once someone has committed to working with you based on what people know about you beforehand. The reverse is true, too, as someone committed to not working with you will likely not hear anything from you to convince them otherwise.

When someone says "Yes", then the only thing you can convince them of is not working with you. What, are they going to work with you more? You got the "Yes". Take it.

Promising too much

When people keep pitching after getting the "Yes", one thing pops into my mind: They can't deliver. It isn't a summation of their abilities or even based on the quality of the pitch itself. Instead, I believe that actually didn't have a strategy for what to do after I said yes.

At best, they promised too much to seal the deal and have to rise to the occasion. At worst, they don't have a plan.

I talked about it a while ago in this column:

The challenge for me and my co-founders, as well as many entrepreneurs, was that our focus was on evangelizing our service. But what if people love our service? It becomes preaching to the choir. There has to be a strategy if you actually win. It's akin to a presidential candidate being focused on the debates, but not having a set plan for when she actually gets into office. It's a recipe for disaster - even though you got what you wanted.

It comes down to intention. If your intention is to serve this client, then the "Yes" is just a formality in building a long, thoughtful relationship. If your intention is to seal the deal, then the "Yes" was the only goal, and everything else is a formality.

The next time you keep talking after you get the "Yes", realize you are signaling that you didn't plan enough for actually succeeding. And that, as many have shared, is the ultimate recipe for failure.

Published on: Oct 29, 2018