Want Something at Work, Like a Promotion or a Raise? Try the Upfront Close

February 19, 2018

The upfront close is a great technique when asking for a promotion or a raise.

Is there something at work you are hoping for? Perhaps a raise? A promotion? More time off?

There’s a simple technique you can use that'll help you accomplish any of those goals: the upfront close.

Brian Ahearn, in his LinkedIn Learning course Persuasive Selling, detailed the technique. It’s simply asking the decision-maker – who, many times, is your boss – what’s needed to earn the goal and then delivering on that.

An example – don’t go to your boss and demand a promotion. Instead, go to your boss and ask, “What do I need to do to earn a promotion?”.

Your boss should list their expectations: hit certain benchmarks over the course of a certain time period, exhibit that you’ve learned a new skill, successfully run a big project, etc. And then, if you can accomplish those tasks, you’ll be set up for that promotion.

Same goes for earning a raise. Instead of demanding a raise, ask, “What do I need to do to earn a raise?”. Or, for work-life balance. Instead of, “I’d like to work from home twice-a-week”, ask, “What do I need to do to work-from-home twice-a-week?”.

The psychology behind the upfront close

Ahearn said there’s a psychological concept behind the upfront close: consistency.

It’s a simple concept: people are motivated more by negatives than positives. And a negative to most people is being inconsistent, i.e. saying one thing and doing another. So, if you accomplish what the person said was necessary, they’ll most likely fulfill their side of the bargain.

“People don't like to say yes to one thing and then do something else, so when you've done everything you said and pointed it out, it makes it easier for the person to say yes to you,” Ahearn said in his course.

Why this leads to better conversations

Beyond the psychology, this approach leads to better conversations. Use the promotion example again – if you walk into your boss’s office and demand a promotion, you put them in a tough spot. Plus, you can come across as entitled, and potentially turn your boss into an adversary.

Conversely, if you use the upfront close approach and ask them what it’ll take to earn a promotion, it turns into a much different conversation. You are honoring them by asking their advice, turning them into a de facto mentor and it forces alignment between the two of you.

There’s a chance this could go poorly. In the promotion example, maybe you are nowhere close to getting a promotion and the boss laughs you out of the office. Even that’s okay – at the very least, you realize where you stand.

Bottom line, it’s difficult to achieve a goal if you don’t know how to achieve it. The upfront close removes the guess-work – if done correctly, you’ll know exactly what's expected of you, which makes it much easier for you to deliver.

Brian Ahearn’s course Persuasive Selling isn’t just for salespeople – it’s for anyone who is looking to become more influential. Check it out today.

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