Establish the value of your product or service, and you’ll find it a lot easier to ask for a prospective client’s business.
By Jeffrey Gitomer
Seems too simple: Just ask. In most cases, to get the sale—at some point you must ask for it. “Yes, Jeffrey,” you say,
“but when do you ask? What’s the perfect time to ask?”
How do I know? No one knows that except you. I can only tell you it’s a delicate combination of the prospect’s buying signals, and your gut feeling.
How and what to ask are easier to define than when. Since the “ask” is a critical part of the sale, you’d better be prepared with a number of options for the how and what part.
Important note: Here’s what never to ask: “What will it take for me to get your business?” or “Where do I need to be to get your business?” Those are insult questions. Great salespeople figure out what it takes, and then do it.
More important note: Many salespeople are “ask-reluctant.” If this is you, just realize the worst that can happen when you ask is that the prospect says “no”—which to any good salesperson means “not yet!”
Big deal. Ask, you chicken!
How do you ask for the sale? This way:
What’s the risk? When you ask the prospect what risks are associated in doing business with you, real objections may surface—or (and here’s the best part) there are usually none that come to mind. You say, “Well, Mr. Johnson, when would you like to start not risking?” and the sale is yours.
When is the next job? If you’re making a sale where there are lots of opportunities (printer, supplies, temp help, construction, graphic design) you only need to get one job (order) to prove yourself.
The Question is your signal to begin asking for the sale or know that a sale is imminent. Listen for it.
The indirect commitment. Could you arrange your schedule to be there at delivery? How many people will need to be trained? When can we set up training? (This is the assumptive position.)
What’s preventing it? Is there anything preventing you from doing business with us? What’s in the way? What are the obstacles?
Is that the only reason you’re hesitant? If there’s an obstacle or objection, ask “Is that the only reason? In other words, Mr. Johnson, if it wasn’t for (objection) then we could…”
Communicate creatively. Go to the local five-and-dime store (pretty much dates me doesn’t it?) and buy some plastic fence and a few plastic (rubber) people. Wire one person to the fence that most resembles (or would be non-offensive to) the prospect. Send it in a box to the prospect—and include a flyer declaring that it’s “National Get Off the Fence Week.” Tell the prospect he’s been thinking about it long enough—and what better time to get off the fence, and place an order than during this special celebration week? Tell him he’ll be helping underprivileged salespeople all over the world by getting off the fence and placing an order. Create some laughter. Have some fun. Make some sales.
Create an offer so good that you can end by asking “fair enough?” “Mr. Johnson, I don’t know if we can help you or not, but if you bring your most important examples to lunch on Friday, if I can help you, I’ll tell you. And if I can’t help you, I’ll tell you that, too. Fair enough?” Here’s another: “Mr. Johnson, give me a trial order and let me earn your business. If it’s not everything I claim and more, you don’t have to pay for it. Fair enough?” (“Fair enough” should always be accompanied by a “can’t say no deal.”)
And when all else fails …
Ask with humor. “Mr. Johnson, I finally figured out what it will take to get your business—all you have to do is say yes!” The more adventurous salesperson will add: “When would you like to do that?”
Most important note: Ask for the sale when the mood is right. The worst possible place is in the prospect’s office. Best place is a business breakfast, lunch or dinner. Next best is your office. Next best is a trade show.
The rule of thumb is: ask early, and ask often. The best way to master the skill is by practicing in front of someone who can say “yes.”
Jeffrey Gitomer is author of The Little Red Book of Selling and The Little Red Book of Sales Answers.
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