At the end of the day—after getting past the gatekeeper, delivering an outstanding pitch, overcoming the prospect’s objections (post-pitch dialogue), you still have to close. If you can’t close then all the prior work is an act in fruitlessness.
You’re in sales for the fruit, the sweetness of the deal. Low lying fruit, hard to reach fruit, easy, difficult—it doesn’t matter. A deal is a deal is a deal. That’s why you’re in sales, because other than the money and the excitement of the chase, the nicest words you’ll ever hear will be, “Yes, I will buy.”
The most common reason for not closing a deal is simple. The salesman doesn’t ask for the sale. Period. Not once. The second most common reason the salesman doesn’t close is that he doesn’t ask for the sale enough. I distinctly remember a former colleague of mine asking for the sale, in the course of one lengthy phone call, six times. Six times. It became almost comical—to the rest of us and the prospect whose guard was dropping lower and lower—but in the end perseverance paid off. The prospect appreciated my colleague’s tenacity and he got the deal.
There is a certainty when you ask for sale, and as soon as you ask you’ll know exactly where you stand and there will be no lingering doubt after you hang up. You’ll be at peace and hopefully a little richer for your effort.
You’ll run into situations in which you think the prospect is a buyer, only to learn later that he was stringing you along and/or you were not decisive in the sales process. Is the person you’re dealing with the decision maker? Well, hopefully you’ve asked that on the initial call. Is the money in line with his budget? Again, this is something you should’ve asked on the first call? Is this something you’d like to move forward with? That’s asking for sale, isn’t it? If his response is “I don’t know” then you need to find out why he doesn’t know.
Let’s examine these questions one by one.
“Are you the decision maker?” If he answers yes, then ask for the sale. If the answer is no, ask who the decision maker is and their phone number. If they are reluctant to provide you the name and contact information then politely (and cheerfully if you can manage) leave your name and number, bite your lip, and quickly move on. Avoid getting into some petty argument. This won’t help your cause and may actually prevent you from getting the deal, especially if the non decision-maker is a friend of the person who will be making the final call.
“Is the money in line with your budget?”
Yes, it is. Great, let’s move forward and take care of the paperwork. You’ve asked for the sale. Let’s go ahead and reserve you? Same thing. No matter how you ask for the sale, ask for it.
“No, the money is not in my budget?” This is when you ask for the conditional close.
Ask the prospect exactly what his budget is so you can work with him. “Bill, if I can get you this price is it something you’d like to finalize today?” The conditional close. The answer is either yes or no. Certainty.