When a client tells me they’re not bringing in the sales they want, one of the first questions I ask is, “Are you asking for the business?” Their response is either “No, I don’t know what to say,” or “What if I ask and they’re not interested?” Well, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know where you stand with your prospect.
The close is a crucial moment of decision in the sales process when the prospect decides whether to enter into a business relationship with you or not. For many people this is such a painful time that 50% of all sales calls end without asking for some sort of commitment to the next step.
Let me share a story with you. Jim and Ron were friends for more than 25 years and golf buddies for nearly the same amount of time. They had grown up together, were as close as brothers celebrating each other’s personal and professional business successes over the years. One day, while they’re teeing off, Jim turned to Ron and said, “Ron, how come after all the years we’ve known each other, you’ve never given me any business?” Ron turned to Jim and simply said, “You never asked.” This response may sound surprising, but it’s true. The most common reason business owners don’t get the business is they don’t ask for it. It’s as simple as that. If you want the business, you must ask for it.
Let’s take a look at 7 key steps to asking for the business.
1. Prepare Yourself for the Close: There are a number of questions to answer before you ask for the business. Once you answer “yes” to these questions, you’re ready to ask the closing questions. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
* Does the customer want what I’m selling?
* Does the customer believe in me and my company?
* Can the customer afford my product?
* Does the customer fully understand what my product is?
* Have I prepared and practiced my closing techniques?
* Am I prepared to remain silent after asking the closing question?
2. Trial Closes: Throughout the sales meeting, look for opportunities to get agreement from the prospect. Repeat back to the prospect what they told you is important to them and tie it back to the benefits. Here’s an example: “Don’t you agree, it’s going to give you the financial security you said earlier is so important to you?”
Checking in with them throughout the meeting and getting agreement allows you to use the information as you prepare for the close. If your prospect agrees, you can bring them back to that at the end.
3. Assumptive Close: From the moment you walk in and sit down with the prospect, assume the prospect wants to buy your product. If they are willing to meet with you, they must have some interest in what you’re selling. If you continually assume the sale over and over in your own mind, you’ll project that confidence in your speaking when meeting with the prospect. Here are several assumptive statements you can make before the prospect buys:
* “You’ll be happy you decided to buy it.”
* “You’re going to love how it looks in your home.”
4. Ask Pressure-Free Closing Questions: The level of anxiety increases for a prospect as he or she gets closer to making a decision on whether to do business with you. This is an uncertain time for the prospect in the decision-making process and the sale can go either way. The way to keep the sales door open and lead the prospect to doing business with you is to ask pressure-free questions. “If” is the magic word to use when asking a pressure-free question. The word “if,” removes all risk and pressure from the question. The prospect will respond freely as there is no commitment to be made at this time. Here’s a couple of examples:
* If you were to go ahead with…when would you…?
* If you were to decide to…how many would you…?
5. Ask Closing Questions: There is no need to break your momentum now. You’re now at the most crucial part of the sales and the moment of truth. Nothing happens until the sale is closed. If you want the business, you simply have to ask for it. Here are a few questions you can ask potential clients in order to reach an agreement.
* “Are you ready to get started?”
* “Shall I draw up a contract?”
* “Do we have a deal?”
* “Let’s take a few minutes now so I can walk you through the agreement.”
* “Let’s set up our next meeting and I can go over the plan with you then.”
* “Shall I finalize the details?”
6. Be Quiet! Let Them Respond First: The biggest flaw leading to failing to close the sale is the inability to know when and how to ask for it and then be quiet. After you’ve made your recommendation and asked all your closing questions, remain silent. The prospect has listened to your presentation and needs a couple of moments to absorb the information and make the buying decision. Take a deep breathe, be quiet, and wait for the prospect to speak first.
7. Decide on the Next Steps: Whether or not you have closed the sale, be absolutely certain that both you and the prospect know what happens next. Before you end your meeting with the prospect, take out your calendar and set up the next meeting, or the next call. Never leave a meeting without knowing the next step.
* Make a list of 5 Trial Closing questions, 5 Assumptive Closing statements, 5 Pressure-Free Closing questions, and 5 Closing Questions to ask the prospect and memorize them.
* Find a buddy and practice Steps 1-7.
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