Years ago, a mentor told me that she never buys from someone who doesn't ask for the sale. It was an off-the-cuff remark, but it turned into a powerful lesson for me. At the time, I was just learning how to make sales calls—and how to overcome the associated nervousness. This casual comment somehow bolstered my confidence; the notion of "asking for the sale" seemed to indicate competence and expertise. It has informed my selling—and buying—ever since.
Asking for the sale represents a pivotal moment in the relationship between buyer and seller. When I facilitate sales training (usually with Impact Learning Systems' course Getting to the Heart of Telephone Sales™), I emphasize that asking for the sale shifts the ownership of the situation to the buyer and empowers him (or her) with the responsibility to say yes or to give a good reason for saying no. In both cases, this results in a valuable experience for the salesperson—either a successful close or insight into what else a buyer might need before making the decision to buy.
To me, asking for the sale is a hallmark of a confident, proactive, and professional salesperson. This direct approach is so much more powerful than all the hemming and hawing that so often takes place in a sales encounter. It's circumvents the game of wiles and establishes a tone of, "Hey, you have a need; I have a solution. Let's do business together."
As a customer, I constantly use this criterion in my buying decisions. If someone doesn't ask for the sale, I get to wondering why, and I usually ascribe it to one of three reasons:
- The salesperson lacks confidence in the value of the product.
- The salesperson lacks the requisite knowledge of how and when to ask for the sale.
- The salesperson doesn't really care whether or not I buy.
In each case, I tend to lose my interest. Maybe I'm too discerning, but I'd just rather buy from someone who asks me for the business. Of all the steps to skip, why this one?
Try this out for yourself … For the next week or two, keep track of every purchase you make and count the number of times that the salesperson actually asks you for the sale. With small purchases like your daily latte and groceries this expectation might be overkill, but you can certainly track it for clothes, services, gadgets, gifts, and big-ticket items (not to mention cookies or anything else being sold by a youth group on your doorstep).
Make them sell before you buy! This will ensure that you've had a chance to understand the value of the product before you buy and will help hone the skills of the people doing the selling.