Want the Business? Then Ask For It

by WOHe

Asking for business is such a basic principle, it’s surprising
that there is even a need to address it. I have come to realize,
however, that while people may be putting a great deal of effort
into developing a sale, they aren’t following through and asking
for the order. This is a selling sin.’

Many of us work toward the close with an assumptive attitude,
yet the assumption style isn’t strong enough to complete the deal.
But, salespeople in our industry are reluctant to be more assertive
in asking for a prospect’s business, believing they will be
perceived as pushy.

There is a big difference between being pushy and being
assertive, however. Pushy salespeople tend to sell things to
prospects that they don’t need or want to own, or sell clients
goods and services at prices that aren’t good values. An assertive
salesperson, on the other hand, figures out what the customer
needs, and stresses the reasons the item or items would be of
benefit. But, it can’t stop there. The salesperson then has to ask
the prospect for the business in order to close the deal.

There are several ways to ask a prospect for his or her business
at the conclusion of a sales presentation. Some salespeople simply
hand a pen (a really nice one) to the customer, asking him or her
to sign a commitment. Others ask five or six questions that get a
yes response from the customer, conditioning the prospect to say
yes to the’

follow-up query. While these approaches are okay, if your sales
presentation is done correctly, it’s pretty simple for you to
extend an invitation allowing you and your company to do the
project.

In the beginning
I recommend that you start asking for the business early in your
presentation, continuing with follow ups until you win or lose.

Begin asking for a customer’s business upon qualification. Try
something like: “Based on my understanding, what we offer is a fit
with your project. Let’s get started on its development and
ultimate success. Okay?” Another statement you might try could be:
“We enjoy working with major remodeling projects like yours, and
have a very successful track record. I believe that, together, we
can enjoy success without surprises, don’t you?”

Early on, extend an invitation to the prospect to engage with
your firm to solve his or her needs. Asking for and getting this
agreement provides an excellent foundation for a successful sale.
But, keep in mind that these statements won’t be available to you
if you don’t create them ahead of time, and they won’t be effective
unless you develop them to fit your style.

During the creation of the project, you will also have plenty of
opportunities to continue asking the prospect for his or her
business. Many of these opportunities come directly from customers,
asking for specific conditions they want met. With each condition
you are asked to meet, be positioned to take advantage.’

For example: The customer asks for you to commit to an exact
finish date for the project. It could be a wedding, graduation,
etc., but it’s important the project be done by that date. An easy
reply is, “Yes, we can meet that date.” However, a better answer
is, “If we commit to meeting that date for completion, and I
believe we can, I must ask for your commitment to us to be your
project resource. Are you prepared today to make that commitment so
we can get started?”

Another situation could arise after the prospect has pored over
all of the options wood, stain, door style, glazing, etc. They may
end up with a specific request such as, “I would prefer this door
and want it stained to match my dining set. Can you assure me of
making an exact match?” The easy answer here is, “Let me see what
we can do and we’ll go from there.” However, the best answer is,
“Based on our getting the match you want, and I would like to start
on that immediately, I need your assurance that we will be doing
your project. This will require an investment today of $1,500. Will
that be all right?”‘

Prospects asking you for a commitment isn’t a new concept. But,
their asking opens an opportunity for you, creating the “If I can,
will you?” opening. When customers want to place a condition on
you, it is fair to place a condition on them. You are simply asking
them for their business.

It is important to note that there will be those times when the
condition you ask of the project will be too much for the client to
accept, and you will have to quickly evaluate the situation to see
if the condition should be altered or if you should let the
prospect go. And, there are times that your best decision will be
to let the prospect go.

The closing question
Of course, the more traditional time to ask for the business is at
the end of a successful presentation. For this approach to be
successful, a lot of things would need to have been done correctly.
If you didn’t qualify correctly, you’ll have a problem. If you
didn’t discuss budget or how their financial obligation to you will
be exercised, you will have a problem. If your design missed the
target of expectation of the prospect, you will have a problem. The
fact is, at this point, you have either sold the kitchen or bath
project, or you haven’t. By inviting the prospect to accept your
products and services, all you are really asking for is a
validation of the customer’s decision. There’s nothing pushy about
that.

Your invitation in asking for the business should be
non-threatening, and it should be delivered in a conversational
tone. Deliver it with confidence, enthusiasm and the expectancy
that you have earned the sale.

Your invitation to do business question may be as simple as “Are
we ready to get started?” or “Let’s get started today, shall we?”
You can also use: “I’ve enjoyed working with you on the development
of your project. To get started as we have discussed, we would ask
the initial investment be made today, and require your signature to
authorize us to proceed. Is that okay?”

Even if the sale doesn’t take place at the point of
presentation, all is not lost. It is imperative that you follow up,
follow up and follow up some more. During follow-ups, focus on
overcoming objections and answering questions, and always keep
asking for the business. I believe you have earned it. While you
might not get it, don’t ever lose it because you didn’t follow up
and didn’t ask for the business.

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