Closing more sales. It’s the goal for sales managers and professionals alike.  And both are frustrated when it doesn’t happen.  How do I know this?  I ask!

During the needs analysis with a prospect, we always ask “What are the barriers to getting where you want to be?” or “What is keeping you from achieving the goals that are set?” Nearly 90% of the time, one of the reasons given by sales managers is that “My people aren’t closing sales. They do all the work and then the final decision is stalled. They don’t move them through the pipeline.”

If I ask sales people, “What keeps you from closing more sales?” I often hear, “The buyers don’t make decisions timely.”

When I ask buyers why they haven’t decided, they have said “They never asked!”

Okay, so what can be done to get buyers to decide and sales pros to close?  It may be more simple than you think – you need to ask!

AskI can’t count the number of times I have observed or coached a sales pro to find out that they do a LOT of work to build the relationship, identify the wants/needs and demonstrate their value.  And then wait. And check in. And wait. Then check in again. But they never have asked to find out the answer!

Instead, there are important questions to be asked after the recommendation is made!  They questions fall into two groups:

  • Objections
  • Decisions

Unless we ask for their opinion on concerns/objections, we may never know where we really stand.  Until we ask for a decision we may never ‘win’ the deal.

What can you do to close more sales?  First, find out where they are in their thought process and if there are any objections, ask,

  • “How does what we’ve discussed sound to you?”
  • “What concerns do you have about this solution or me/my company?”
  • “What barriers do you see in implementing this?”
  • “How does this align with your goals?

Notice these are open ended questions that ask for opinions, ideas and feedback?

Then after listening and responding appropriately, ask for a decision:

  • “What is the next action for you in the decision making process?”
  • “Have we covered everything you need to make your decision?”
  • “Are you ready to move forward?”
  • “Can we initiate the paperwork today?”
  • “Should we wrap this up?”

Some of these are still open ended to allow you ‘test the water’ before asking for a decision.  But then you HAVE to ask for a decision!

Want to know if this works?  Try it and you will see that it does.

The reason I am writing this post today is because I just used this process with the IRS. Yes the IRS!  They never say ‘yes’.  But I looked at appealing a penalty charge as an opportunity to sell – to build a relationship with the agent, ask for concerns, and then ask for the removal of the penalty.  The charge was relevant – in switching the Sales Pro Insider accounting systems last June, one of the federal tax payments was not made.

It took me two letters and a phone call – which is what sealed the deal. During the call I focused on building rapport, working through the situation together and then asking for the penalty to be removed. The agent cheerfully – really cheerfully – said he would recommend a removal.  I just opened the letter that said it had been approved! A large penalty was removed from the account.

This situation is a great reminder for us all – you don’t get what you don’t ask for.

My recommendation to you?  Look at your pipeline. What prospects are stalled?  Which situations did you maybe not ‘close’ with the right questions? Then determine how to initiate contact with the prospect. Your objective is to first identify if there are concerns, find out if what you have discussed is of value to them and then ASK for a decision.  The decision might be the buying decision or a decision that they will take an action or talk with  you at a specific time.  And if you get a ‘no’?  Then you know where you stand and can move on to more probable prospects.

In the spirit of asking today – I ask you – who do you know would find value from this blog? Send them a link please!

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