Stacey Hanke is author of the book “Influence Redefined… Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be, Monday to Monday®.”
Successful sales professionals dedicate so much time, energy and effort during a sales cycle. They spend countless hours preparing for meetings, building relationships and learning customer needs. In the end, however, many fall short of closing the deal because they fail to ask for the business.
Closure is necessary for all sales cycles, but often we leave the door open for competitors to come in and sell the solution we’ve worked so hard to convince customers they need. Better yet, when we fail to ask for their business, we leave a way out for customers in doubt.
Sales professionals have more influence in customer decisions than they give themselves credit for. They have spent significant time establishing credibility and trust with prospects, resulting in a continued seat at the table. When salespeople ask for the sale, they leverage the influence they’ve built to drive the customer to a decision. When they fail to ask, all the time and energy spent building that relationship with the customer is left to chance.
Here are five actions you can take to feel more confident when asking for the sale:
1. Don’t forget the customer knows your motive.
You have helped your prospect identify a problem and proposed a solid solution. The easiest part of the process should be closing the sale, but many sales professionals fear they will offend the customer. What you do is not a secret. Customers and prospects know you are in business to sell your product or service. It is up to you to earn their business. When you consistently communicate, follow up and follow-through, you develop a credible, trustworthy relationship. This earns you the right to ask for their business, so ask!
2. Remember your solution is the best.
Customers can sense when you lack conviction in your proposal. You must know, without doubt, that your solution meets the customer’s need, benefiting them in a way no other competitor could. By focusing on how your solution benefits the prospect, you will increase your confidence. You must be so in love with what you do and the solutions you offer, you feel guilty not asking for their business. When you believe your solution is the best, there is no room for anything or anyone else to compete.
3. Identify the client’s personality.
When you have spent time getting to know your client, you know their personality well enough to understand how they operate. You have likely developed a strong relationship that has increased your level of influence where they respect your advice. After spending time getting to know them, you know their personality well enough to understand how they operate. You should tailor your closing according to their personality. If they have a no-nonsense way of operating, be straightforward when asking for their business. Don’t dance around what you want. Lay it out, then stop talking long enough for them to respond.
4. Build momentum with each interaction.
Salespeople should always be closing. Never leave a situation without a decision made on what comes next. Ending every interaction asking for a customer’s decision will generate the necessary momentum to continue the sales cycle until you ultimately close the deal.
If you have a phone call, end the phone call by asking permission to speak again at a specific date and time. If you have an in-person meeting, ask for a decision to continue meeting until the sale is complete. Don’t leave any encounter open to questions. Instead, use every encounter to ask for a decision. Create the momentum that leads to a successful close.
5. Don’t be afraid of no.
Many sales professionals are inherently afraid of the word no, so they refuse to ask for yes. If this describes you, go back through your sales cycle and identify possible gaps. If you have been consistent in your sales approach and developed an influential relationship with the prospect, you should not be afraid to ask for their business. If you are, you likely failed to earn the right to do so. Either you do not believe in your product enough to be convincing, have failed to consistently ask for a decision during each interaction or you lack the influence needed to guide a customer to the right decision.
It is not the customer or prospect’s job to close the deal themselves. That is your responsibility. If you have consistently invested the time and energy to create an influential relationship, nothing stops you from asking for the sale. Ask!