How Do You Improve Your Sales? Just Ask!
Guest Post by Kim Fredrich, Sales Trainer, Coach and Speaker
How Do You Improve Your Sales? Just Ask!
People tell me all the time that they can’t sell. Sometimes they don’t see themselves as salespeople (ick, slimy right?), sometimes they are quiet and introverted, and sometimes they are just so uncomfortable in a sales situation that selling becomes a never-ending spiral of ineffectiveness and anxiety.
And then there are those who feel pretty good building rapport, asking qualifying questions, and talking about their product or service’s benefits, but when it comes down to it, are unable to ask for the business.
What’s true in both cases is either a business that never gets off the ground or one that is doomed to failure. Because without sales, you don’t really have a business.
What to do when you must sell?
First, recognize that selling is like any other skill; it’s unlikely you’ll be Olympic caliber the first few times you try it. Practice is imperative.
Second, you’ll need to shift your mindset around selling, especially if you want to succeed as a business owner. Selling is really about service – you are providing a solution to a problem that your customer has. You’re not pushing something your customer doesn’t really need, and you’re not in the transaction just to make a buck. That’s how selling got such a bad name in the first place!
You’ve accepted those two points? Good, we can move on to the nitty gritty.
How do you actually ask for the sale?
Here’s the funny thing, you just need to ask. I know, I know. This is supremely uncomfortable for some of you. Remember this: your prospective customer is expecting you to ask and will find it strange if you don’t. They’ve just spent their valuable time getting to know you and your company. They’ve decided that it’s worth continuing the conversation, and they are seriously considering you as a supplier of whatever product or service you have to offer.
So, go ahead, take a deep breath, and JUST ASK.
Here are some “go for the gusto” direct ways to ask for the sale:
Are you ready to sign a contract?
Can I book you in for Tuesday next week?
How many would you like to order?
What needs to happen for us to work together?
Can I put you down for $3000?
You’ll notice that these are all closed questions that can be answered with a yes or a no. That’s because at this point in your sales conversation, you need a direct answer. Yes, I’d like to work with you. Or no, we are unable to commit at this time because . . . . Hint: you’ll always want to get a reason for the no. You may still have an opportunity depending on that reason.
And here are some less scary ways to ask for the sale:
If the direct way to ask for the sale is still a little too frightening, you might also try something like:
Is there anyone else who needs to be involved in this decision?
What do you think about my (your product or service here)?
Is there anything stopping you from purchasing?
How can we get this [insert your product or service] installed?
There! You’ve done it. You’ve asked for the sale.
After you ask for the sale, then what?
That’s right, you don’t say anything. That interminably long pause while you wait for your potential customer to respond is in reality only a few seconds. And it’s up to the client or customer to respond. You lose so much business and personal credibility if you find yourself compelled to fill that silence. Most likely you’ll start doing something foolish like discounting your product or service or throwing in extras, all while your potential client hasn’t even said yes or no yet. There’s a good chance they were going to say yes at your asking price, but now you’ve gone and discounted it! A sale, yes; profitability, not so much.
Hopefully you’re feeling a little bit more comfortable with the idea of taking a deep breath and just asking for the business. If not, I encourage you to practice with a colleague or a friend. It really isn’t that difficult, but the more you practice, the easier it will become.
To find out more about how to make your selling more successful check out additional tips in my blog, ‘Substance & Style’.
About Kim Fredrich
Kim helps customer facing ‘non-sales’ staff get comfortable with sales and realize the importance of their role in business success. Her one-on-one sales coaching, consultancy and workshops focus on building relationships and having conversations with purpose. She has recently presented at The Power Conference, NAWBO, the Freelance Union and the Women in Business Leadership Council. She has also conducted workshops for Howard University’s In3 Incubator, Hera Hub and the Maryland Women’s Business Center.
Kim began selling with her first job in food services, branched into marketing, and came back to sales because it was a bigger challenge and much more interesting. She has trained with some of the most respected business brand names over her career, achieving a training commendation from Xerox. Over the past 20 years she’s delivered sales and marketing services to select clients across the globe, in B2C, B2B and nonprofit industries.