Anything good takes exactly five meetings

The Data: It’s finally time to bring that giant stack of papers or pitch deck. Make the numbers prove your story. Bring pictures, or your résumé or details about your life. The target will leave thinking about how to get involved with your project.

The Ask: Can I invest in your company? Will you hire me? Dinner Thursday? You’ve now popped the question—so here’s where you cheat. People don’t trust their own judgment and therefore can’t make up their own minds, but they do trust others. So you also need to have pitched your story to someone else they know. A mutual friend, boss, underling, it doesn’t matter, just someone else. Invariably, the two will talk about your idea, and the third person will confirm all the positives of the deal. Then, all that’s left to do is . . .

The Close: When can I start? Sign on the dotted line. I’ll pick you up at 6. Because you took your time—five meetings or touches—of course the answer is yes. If it weren’t, you would have been shut down at step two or three. You and the target both leave satisfied.

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