Ask For The Sale, It’s Why You’re There

by

Andy Bagner
Implementation Manager
May 3, 2018
/
minutes to read

Get to the Point

  1. Change the Questions - Asking questions that request commitments from customers, and are not just gathering information. For example, don’t be afraid to say “Would you like to hire us for this service?” Instead of “What else do you need to know before making a decision?”
  2. Ask Sooner - Sometimes customers know 5 minutes into a discussion if they want to buy or not, so don’t wait until 20 minutes into a sales pitch before asking.
  3. Move To the Next - Once a decision is made, you can either start planning for the job, or move on to the next sale. Either way, time is working for you instead of against you.

You're there for a reason.

There are a lot of qualities that make a great salesperson. A competitive drive is essential, but so is a level of empathy to understand how a potential customer feels. Big companies spend tons of money on building sales strategies and training employees. Small companies may not have all the resources of corporate America, but there's one simple thing companies can teach employees that will increase sales.

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take

The Great One, Wayne Gretzky said it and it's just as true in sales as it is in hockey. There are lots of reasons that customers choose not to buy. Maybe they aren't ready to make a decision, aren't financially able to do it, or are using your business as leverage for another vendor they have already selected. These, and many other reasons may derail a sale, but perhaps the single biggest reason people don't buy is that they aren't asked to buy.

Many inexperienced salespeople are reluctant to ask a customer to buy. Instead, they talk about options and service and how great things will be once your company has done its work. None of that is asking for the sale. Even though a  salesperson thinks they have clearly asked the customer to buy, the customer may not feel that they're being asked to commit.

Here are some things salespeople say to customers that are NOT asking for the sale.

  • "What do you think?"
  • "Does this sound good to you?"
  • "Is this something you'd be interested in doing?"

If you want a customer to buy you must provide clarity that you are asking them to buy. Examples of asking for the sale are:

  • "Will you buy [product or service]?"
  • "When can we get started?"
  • "Can I have your business?"
  • "Have I earned your business?"

So why don't salespeople ask for the sale? It's simple: fear. No one likes the feeling of being rejected and as a result opportunities are lost because of the fear of rejection. By not asking for the sale, a salesperson is letting fear get in the way of closing. But delaying possible rejection isn't a solution.

Embrace "No"

It's important to let your sales team know that they shouldn't fear a "no" from customers. Instead they should embrace it. Why? Well, first off you're not selling until the customer says "no." Prior to that, you're just giving information. If your job is to sell, then sell. Getting to "no" fast means that you get to selling sooner.

When a "no" is clear and definitive you can turn your attention elsewhere. For a salesperson, time is the most valuable thing you have. The number of people who say "yes" is at the heart of your success. People aren't always honest about not wanting to buy because they are afraid of conflict and this can drag out the sales process for what will eventually be a "no." Getting to "no" quickly lets you move on to another opportunity where you can get a "yes."

Look at Pricing

The start of the year is a great time to look at pricing. Usually, you have an idea of how your company fared the year prior, and you want to ensure you will continue to grow in the months to come. Many of us make New Year’s resolutions with respect to spending or saving in our personal lives, and it’s no different for business owners. Making sure your pricing is in line with where it should be is one of the strongest ways to start the year the right way.

Part of looking at your price book is finding where the issues are, and that can take time. An HVAC company in January is going to be very busy, so it’s a difficult time for a close look. However, a plumbing company might not be as busy. Whenever you tackle this job, your best bet is to look at what your labor rates are. Start there, and let it trickle down across the board. Ask yourself, “Are my labor rates helping my business stay profitable?”

Remember, there are many different services out there and many different groups or communities that you can engage. Never hesitate to say, “Hey, I’m a business owner in Florida. What should my labor rates be?” You can build your price from there. There are also some great billable hour calculators available.

Set Goals

There is no better time of year for looking inward than January. Set your personal goals and company goals for the following 12 months. If you can break those down into departmental goals, even better! Perhaps that means a CSR booking closing rates a little better, or a truck doing 250,000 a year rather than 200,000.

Many companies have found that using an Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) goal-setting system pays off. Looking for a guidebook when it comes to OKRs? Check out Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr. 

One key question is the best way to handle setting goals: Is it smarter for business owners to handle this solo, together with staff, or to delegate completely? 

The best approach is to set goals at the department level. As an owner, you need to take the time to understand what the goals are in each department, and make sure they are in line with your goals for the company. No one likes to set unattainable goals for themselves, so make sure you push your departments to set goals that are lofty, rather than simple ones to feel good about hitting. Entrust your staff to aim higher, and watch how they respond.

Pass Along these Points

There's more where that came from.