In 1977, I received my first six intensive months of B2B sales training. It was a modified version of Xerox Professional Selling Skills. This was classic sales training for the time and it all led up to the big moment where you have to ask for the order. Only then could the blood-letting, the mortal combat between seller and customer, begin.
There was always one glaring challenge. New salespeople were almost always afraid to ask for the order and I was not the exception. Part of this was a lack of confidence. The other part of it was fear. What if the customer says “no”? What if they are offended? What if I make them uncomfortable? Yeah it was uncomfortable since everyone knew it was coming and all parties were waiting for that big shoe to drop.
Well, let me tell you a few things about asking for the order …
- A sale is earned and not given.
- The close is overrated.
- The conversion is the natural result of a sale done properly.
- If the sale was not secured, it was not because of the close. It was because of everything that happened before the close. Sorry. You sucked early on.
Now, I know more closing techniques than I have fingers and toes and I use … none of them. My focus is entirely on everything that happens before the big moment. Generally my customer will instead ask me … “What do we need to do to get started?” It’s a lot less bloodier than the alternative and nobody gets hurt.
They key to all of this is found in #3 … a sale done properly. You actively listen. You understand their needs as well as their buying process. You educate the customer on your product or service and that includes the process of securing it. You tell them what to expect and when to expect it and then you exceed those expectations. If you can effectively do all of the above, all things being equal, you will win this sale. You have separated yourself from the competition and this is applicable even if your provide a commodity offering. Simple.