Gaining Committment

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Gaining commitment may be one of the most challenging activities or skill in the current business world. We think it is challenging mostly because people don’t always understand what it actually means and how to get to it. Gaining commitment is too often associated to the “hard close” or “tying down” of clients.

While a number of people would love to find a turn key solution, an easily applicable and reproducible recipe, gaining commitment depends on the quality of the interaction between individuals and groups. It is intimately dependent on the value that commitments will bring to the people making them.

What is commitment?

It is an agreement to take action between at least two parties (people or groups) based on the fulfillment of both parties needs. In other words, I for example, will agree to commit to an action if I believe that what I engage into will help me fulfill a need (or needs) I have and consequently bring value to my life or my work.

What do we need to get to a commitment?

When salespeople, managers, trainers and account executives are asked that question as the customer, this is basically what many of them say is needed for them be committed.

There has to be a clear knowledge/understanding that the planned actions are advantageous and will fulfill a need or bring added value. I will never commit to do something that does not bring a benefit.

So how is it that many sales managers and executives are asking their salespeople to “hard sell” or “close the deal”?

Normally, a commitment is made between and by two parties. They both engage in doing something. We need to understand that if one party sees value (here the salesperson sees value in convincing a customer to purchase a product) but the other does not, a commitment to take action that satisfies both parties is very unlikely. In sales, it is often the case. It comes from the salesperson wanting something for themselves that has not yet a clear value for their counterpart, the customer.

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Does this mean that we sometimes cannot get to a commitment? Not at all. In fact, every interaction should lead to a commitment. We just need to be reasonable with our expectations and realize that a clear understanding of needs on both parts will enable both to commit to some action that will help both in moving toward a valuable solution.

Let’s review what needs to be done, and done with effectiveness, before we can get to a commitment.

Key Components

To get to a commitment one needs to:

1. Clearly identify and understand the needs of others

2. Clearly express their own needs

3. Ensure that critical needs are on the table

4. Ensure that the other understands that we understand their needs

5. Clearly establish that your objective is to take actions that will be in line with the critical need(s)

6. Both agree on a defined action

Key Skills

– How to uncover needs

– Ask questions that help you build a case and follow through on the answers in order to ensure complete understanding

– Listen (paraphrase, eye-contact, posture)

– Engage the individual(s) involved (use silence, repeat, ask to clarify)

– Offer information for their understanding

– Consolidate what both seem to agree upon

The following is an effective exercise to practice these skills. Either with specific case study/short scenarios or with an improvised topic of discussion, have people in groups of 3-4 engage into a discussion and try to find areas of agreement and then gain commitment.

Example of improvised topics:

– Finding 3 key rules for the education of children

– Finding the 3 most important feature a car needs to bring benefits

– What are the 3 things humans need to have in their lives to find balance

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– What 3 actions should be take to effectively fight poverty

The concept of U&I,DO™

With Aseret’s simple communication method that applies to any situation. Whether we sell, argue a case, discuss objections, ask questions, try to find solutions or gain commitment, this method works.

Gaining commitment with U&I,DO™

1. Understand who you are communicating with and their environment

2. Identify their needs through questions. Engage them

3. Disclose information that will identify solutions

4. Organize the expressed needs and consolidate


Who are you dealing with? What is their Behaviour style? What is important to them? What is their role in the current environment? What are their responsibilities? What do they care for or believe in? What are the pressures or limitations or realities they face in the current environment?

Initiate the interaction stating the objective, the reason to discuss and the potential end value of this time and effort investment.


Verify your understanding on their situation and genuinely demonstrate you desire to understand their situation and needs.

Ask questions that will let them express their needs, situation, philosophies and beliefs.

Open up to what they have to express and always verify that you do indeed understand. If things are not clear, clarify before moving forward.


Help your counterpart in understanding your needs.

Express your ideas on what you can help with (your understanding, your products, your organization, your services, your experience, your knowledge, etc…) the satisfaction of their needs (solution).

Provide elements that help them understand and demonstrate the possibility for commonly valuable actions.


Verify how the needs are understood on both sides.

Establish commonalities, agreements, and concomitant point of views on needs, objectives, goals or necessary actions.

Always address the most important needs first (critical needs)

Use the Consolidation statement: How fair is it to say that what is important to you is X and that what I can offer can help you(others) fill that needs?

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Use the Action statement: Based on the fact that your need for X can be satisfied with what we can offer, what are the next steps in which we need to engage?

Key concepts to remember

– Putting undue pressure is ineffective

– One needs to demonstrate their true desire to find solutions that are good for both

– Honesty is a strong motivator to induce trust

– Adapt to the counterpart’s style without changing who you are

– Identify appropriate reasons to suggest action

– Adequate pressure to take action that will satisfy a need and create a solution is necessary

– Practice behaviours that help you make people feel comfortable and trusting

In a training environment, it is important to get each participant to practice and receive feedback from their counterparts as well as neutral observers. It is also very important that participants individually explain why these concepts are important, have them discuss this in small groups, agree on the most compelling reasons and commit on one specific action they will take as a group to follow each concept in the weeks to come. A conference call can be organized after 3 weeks to share success stories in the effective application of the concepts.


Gaining commitment is not a matter of tricks, recipe or blind determination. Commitment does however, come quite easily and naturally when needs are understood and congruent solutions are offered. When both parties see a benefit in any action they commit to undertake, true commitment is possible.

Understanding of the people we interact with, completely identifying their needs and clearly disclosing our own needs will lead to organized and consolidated actions steps that will benefit all parties.

Philippe Glaude, M.Sc.

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