Selling is persuasion and needs to be practiced
Are you asking for the order? Asking for the order is the same as closing. If you aren’t asking for anything, you are not closing. Without the close, there is no sale. Selling is persuading, not just convincing. Convincing is changing someone’s mind. That is a good outcome. However, persuading is causing them to take action as well. Industry research has found that 90% of sales professionals do not ask for the order explicitly. It is no wonder that 90% of pipeline deals never close.
Persuasion is an art and needs to be mastered with practice. No one is born a master persuader. Said differently, you need to practice persuasion or closing. You need to practice asking the prospect to close the deal. Don’t despair if you haven’t done so yet. Give it a shot at your next prospect conversation. The more you do, the more you’ll learn about how to handle the objection and still be closing.
ABC – Moving the ball forwardThis does not mean that having a discovery call or having a review of your offering with a prospect is not selling. The point is that such discovery calls must end in actions that move the ball forward toward a contract e.g. setting up the next meeting within reasonable time (not next month), sending collateral and review it together with the prospect, connecting the prospect with a prior customer and ensuring that gets done, getting another contact within the prospect’s organization and connecting them back to each other and so on and so forth. This is another way of doing the ABC of selling– “Always Be Closing.”
How you ask for the order depends on the situation and the personality dynamics with your prospect. However, rest assured that you will not close if you never asked for the order. If you don’t want to ask that prospect, perhaps they are the wrong prospect or that your relationship with them is getting in the way or you are not confident. That also means you may not know your customer very well. Any way we slice it, that deal is not getting closed!
Be wary of being too polite
Let me show you how politeness is a deal-killer. If you are pitching to me, and you never asked me to start with you, why would I invest my money with you? Perhaps you were politely waiting for me to realize how cool your offering is. It is possible you felt that the timing wasn’t right or it was unnatural to ask. Most common is salespeople thinking that their prospect will continue feeling the pain-point and will come back to them. If you were doing that, you are being polite and chances are that your deal is dead.
In most cases, I (prospect) am politely waiting for you to give me a reason to act. If you don’t, I am probably not going to do anything with you. I might not tell you anything because I too am a social being and don’t want awkward situations if I told you what I really thought about you. This happens especially when you don’t give me a reason to act i.e. you didn’t persuade me. So, I ignore your emails or calls, think the timing wasn’t right or I just get busy and forget. Perhaps I didn’t want to say no explicitly. Believe me, no one likes to say no. So, you and I are politely beating around the bush. We are all polite to each other and are now good friends. Great! So, then what happens next? Do we connect on LinkedIn and call it a day? What is going to happen to your deal? You need to close it by month-end, right? This is why, in most cases, deals die because of perceived politeness.
Tips and Tricks
The best way to get past this politeness impasse is to rely on objective questions that keep the conversations honest. Qualifying and re-qualifying is a handy solution. For those of us who are still sitting on the fence with asking for the order, you must look to your Prospecting and Qualification process.
In summary, you must ask for the order if you want to close. Being polite and closing are different things. This is a cardinal truth of sales. You must be polite, but you must also ask for the order.