Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sales 101 - How To Ask For The Deal

I remember it vividly. I was starting out in sales over twenty years ago, and was in a customer meeting with my manager. We had just finished going over our proposal with the CIO and his team. Then, in the most casual and professional way, my manager leaned over and looked into the eyes of the CIO and asked "now that we have shown you how our solution will work in your environment, and demonstrated the real savings your company will realize, will you be able to sign our agreement this month?" He then smiled politely, sat back, and waited in silence for an answer.

I was blown away at the question along with the awkward silence that followed. How could my manager have the nerve to come right out and ask such a direct question? At that time, I certainly didn't. It was obvious that he had done this many times before and had no issue whatsoever asking for their business. I was also shocked that my customer didn't mind at all, and in fact proceeded to tell us the process they needed to go through to finalize our agreement by the end of the month. I instantly found that to become successful in sales, I needed to be able to ask for the order.

It's a really simple concept and sales technique, and yet many sales reps are reluctant to ask for the order for a wide variety of reasons. They might be afraid of rejection, or are not confident in themselves or what they have done during the sales campaign. Perhaps they don't want to be perceived as being pushy, or they are inexperienced and don't know how or what to say. One thing's for sure, truly successful sales people are NOT afraid to ask for the order. From my own experience, I have seen quite a few sales campaigns falter or fail simply because the sales rep does not ask.

Why Must You Ask For The Business?

- Your customer may already be familiar with your product and wants and needs to purchase it. - You can cut substantial time off your sales campaign by asking early. - You will quickly identify objections and the obstacles you will have to overcome in order to close your deal. - If you don't, you substantially lower your odds of being successful, and will prolong your sales cycle indefinitely, and your customers will continue to ask you to perform cumbersome and resource intensive tasks.

When Is The Ideal Time To Ask?

If done right, and you have built credibility with your prospect by demonstrating value, it\'s never too soon to ask. However, there are certain logical situations when you need to just do it:

- When you have identified a particular need or compelling event and your customer needs your product or solution. - When you have met your customers business objectives. - At the end of your sales campaign once you have presented your proposal. - After completing a product trial. - When you finish a sales presentation or product demonstration.

How Should You Ask?

Everyone has their own style and I have found that most executives appreciate a sincere and direct approach. If you are confident in your solution and the value it will provide, you need to say so and ask for the business. A direct approach might go something similar to this. "Mr. Customer, our team has been working with yours over the last 60 days, and have proven that our solution addresses your major requirements. In order to meet your deadline and begin the project, we will need to have a contract signed this month. Will you be able to ensure that we get our agreement signed before the 30th?" A more subtle approach might be to casually ask "can we move ahead and prepare and forward you the paperwork?" Every situation is different, so you will likely need to personalize your question appropriately.

Who Should You Ask?

It\'s always best if you ask for the business from decision makers and those executives empowered to buy your products or solutions. If you ask somebody that has no authority to approve your purchase, you can waste valuable time chasing deals that may never happen. Most senior executives will give you an honest answer and you will know where you stand and what you need to do to close your deal. It's critical that you understand who these people are at the beginning of your sales campaign to avoid wasting precious time.

As you can see, asking for the business early and often provides many benefits to improve your sales and accelerate your sales campaigns. It's imperative that you don't forget that your time is very valuable, and your customer has a problem that your solution can solve for them. When you have invested your time with your customer, built credibility, and demonstrated value throughout the sales process, then you'veEARNED the right to ASK FOR THE ORDER! Now, it's up to you. I challenge you to ask one of your customers today.

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