This article is part of our Key Fundamentals of IMPACT Selling® series.
Ask a Direct and Simple Question
The U.S. Marines conduct a great exercise to demonstrate how simple it is to tie up a sale (or in their case, gain commitment for enlisting). They line up all the new recruiters and ask them, “If I was a potential recruit, what would you say to gain my commitment?”
On the surface, this may seem like an open-ended question where there is no wrong answer—but the instructors are listening for the magic phrase, “Are you ready to become a United States Marine?”
In the business world, asking, “Are you ready to get started?” is a simple question that typically elicits an honest answer. Salespeople either get a “yes”, and can proceed with the sale, or they get a “no” and can backtrack to handle the objection or concern.
Many sales professionals struggle with asking this question because of two things: human nature and fear.
Fear of Failure and the Negotiation Fallacy
There is a saying that “the fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain.” When a salesperson is actively engaged with a prospect and a potential sale is on the line, they have something to lose.
Concerns and objections that aren’t overcome or handled correctly can kill a sale. Salespeople who don’t have a systematic process that directly addresses these issues early in the sales process will naturally hesitate when it’s time to ask for a commitment.
When this happens repeatedly, the assumed remedy is often negotiation training. Sales professionals do need to know how to negotiate, but they should be handling that much earlier in the sale. You certainly don’t want your team first discovering customer objections in the eleventh hour.
Coaching Tips for Tie-It-Up
The best thing the manager can do is keep their team focused on overcoming the fear of asking. Confidence and action are great remedies to overcome any fear.
Ask your team the following questions to quickly assess how comfortable they are tying up a sale.
- How did you connect the dots between the customer’s needs and pain points with our recommended solution?
- What did you say to ask for the business?
- How did you set expectations around the next steps?
- Did you ask for referrals?
It may be helpful to listen in on a few calls. That will help you identify what is getting in the salesperson’s way. You might pick up on some cues they’re missing or notice if they’re slipping back into the Convince Step.
If the prior steps of IMPACT Selling® have been done well, the salesperson should have the confidence to ask, “When do you want to get started?” or “Are you ready to sign?”
Most people are uncomfortable with silence in a conversation. After asking for commitment, teach your team to remain silent no matter how awkward it feels. Allow the customer to fill the silence by answering the question.
Here Are Your Next Steps
If the customer is ready to move forward, it’s simply a matter of reinforcing the partnership, providing next steps, and asking for referrals. Do your best to create excitement about what’s to come while, of course, keeping the customer’s behavior style in mind.
Don’t let your team make the mistake of waiting too long to ask for a referral. People are most excited about purchases immediately after they’re made. Most people also enjoy sharing things that are new. That means the best time to ask for a referral is while you’re closing up the initial sale.
Are You Ready To Train Your Team With IMPACT Selling®?
As we’ve mentioned throughout our Key Fundamentals of IMPACT Selling® series, we’re incredibly confident that sales will improve when your team follows the six steps of IMPACT. Reach out to us if you have any questions that we can answer. We take pride in our ability to help our clients identify the training and support they need to bring sales to the next level. You can contact us anytime.