The importance of asking for permission on sales calls
I talk a lot about establishing and maintaining control of sales calls; It is important for us as sales professionals to direct the conversation in such a way that we obtain the information we need to determine if and if the potential customer is a good fit for our offering. , what is the best way to locate it. In this post, I’ll discuss one area where a small, easy-to-implement tweak can make a measurable difference in results – asking permission.
Why bother asking for permission?
On the surface, asking our prospects for permission seems like a weak play. We’re temporarily losing control – we briefly give the prospect the reins of the conversation and give him an outlet if he’s really looking for one. So why do we do it? Before we look at the benefits, let’s take a look at the potential downsides to understand why they aren’t so disastrous after all.
You are giving the potential customer call control.
We’re? Asking permission usually takes the form of a closed question (yes or no) to which we are pretty sure the answer will be yes. We’ve given the potential customer control of the call in the same way that a McDonald’s employee has given a customer control of the menu by asking if “they’d like fries with that.”
You are giving the potential customer an easy way out!
Absolutely. This concept of “getting prospects out” is outdated and worth giving up entirely. Your call should strategically incorporate ways for the potential customer to get out of trouble if they are not interested for two reasons:
- It’s a litmus test against the potential customer’s interest – if you’re looking for outlets, you haven’t done your job to pique their interest.
- The corollary is that if we are giving prospects opportunities and they are not accepting them, we know they are interested, and we are subtly reinforcing that interest in the minds of our prospects by forcing them to show it repeatedly!
Having addressed the apparent downsides, let’s take a look at the benefits:
We reinforce our image as an educated professional.
Asking permission is the most polite thing to do, and with the vast majority of prospects, being polite will go a long way toward establishing trust and respect.
We give the potential customer the ability to provide information while restricting their ability to divert the conversation.
Nobody wants to be the recipient of a one-sided conversation. Even if the potential customer has shown that they agree with us leading the call, we want them to feel included in that conversation. Open-ended questions have their role, too, but a simple permission request can go a long way in helping the potential customer feel engaged while maintaining our control over the wheel.
We are engaging prospects more in the conversation and in our service offering by increasing the consent we seek.
This is the most important benefit: closing a deal is simply the last step in a growing chain of consent. Ultimately, we need the prospect to say “yes” when we ask about the business; therefore, it is in our best interest to “get him used to” answering yes before closing it. Asking brings the potential customer’s attention back to where you want it and makes them feel more interested in the call. Subtly, even subconsciously, they think to themselves, “Well, if I wasn’t interested, I could have said ‘no,’ so you should pay attention.” Ideally, asking for the business should always be framed in a context of prior consent. We start by asking your permission to introduce you – to show you our website, do a live demo, send you a proposal, call you back on a specific date, and ultimately we ask your permission to work for them.
To illustrate these benefits, I’m going to go through a couple of examples of situations in which a salesperson might ask for permission and highlight how it benefits them:
Opening the call
Representative: Hi, John. My name is Bill and I am from XYZ Company. I am reaching out to you because I took a look at your website and I think I can help you improve your lead generation capabilities.
Prospect: Thank you, but I don’t have time for this right now.
Representative: I certainly understand John, would it be okay if I took two minutes to briefly explain what we can do for you? If it sounds interesting, we can schedule a follow-up call, and if not, I’ll leave you guys alone.
Prospect: Sure. Two minutes. Shooting.
It would have been easy to overlook the “I’m busy, call me later” objection and start pitching anyway. But then, you’re not being very polite, are you? You also have no idea if the potential customer is listening to you or mentally checking to get back to what they were doing before you called. Finally, we are missing the opportunity to begin to establish the “yes momentum.” At the end of the day, if the potential customer sticks up and doesn’t give you two minutes, they haven’t missed anything, they can still call you. come back later (maybe they were Really busy), or cross them off your list. There are practically no drawbacks.
Moving on to the demo
Representative: John, are you in front of a computer?
John: I am.
Representative: What I’d like to do, John, is take you to a website that we’ve worked on for a client of mine. It is in your industry and I think it will give you a more concrete idea of what exactly we can do for you. Does that sound fair?
John: Sure, what is the site?
Again, it would be easy to simply ask if they are in front of a computer and if they are, direct them to the site, but we would miss a great opportunity to ask for permission. We strive to appear polite, we are not imposing anything on the potential customer, simply suggesting a course of action that will allow them to better evaluate our service. Again, if the prospect rejects your request, it’s not because you didn’t intimidate him, it’s because you didn’t do enough work to generate interest on the front end of the call before attempting your transition (or maybe just legitimate time constraints, in which case They must be willing and eager to arrange a follow-up call.) Either way, it’s doing them Lean on – to become more engaged and admit you (and for themselves) that Yes, they is it so interested in seeing a live demo. Subtle, but powerful.
John: Well this all looks great, what are the next steps?
Representative: Glad to hear it, John, how about I pass you some packages and can you tell me which one makes the most sense? Does it work for you?
John: Sure, shoot.
This is just one example of a way to work the permit in our closure. Here we can see that our intrepid hero has opted for a multiple choice close (a closed closing question form in which we present the prospect with a number of options to choose from, none of which is “no thanks” or “give me some time”). It’s a powerful closure on its own, but adding a permission request is the perfect complement. One of the problems with closed closure tools is that we can make the prospect feel locked in – they get wary and even though everything lines up, I want to buyThey put up last minute walls for that reason. In this case, we have put that worry aside by giving them a way out. We said, “Hey, prospect. I’d like to close it out with multiple choice. Okay?” And they have agreed. BOOM! That’s power. We are also cutting the foreground into more digestible chunks that will be easier for the client to digest: “Yeah, that sounds good.” “Yes, I want to work with you.” “Yes, I would like to hear your options and choose one.” By increasing the consent we ask for slowly, we warm prospects more and decrease the likelihood of scaring them by asking for the business.
These are just a few examples, but there are many more ways that asking for permission can be included in your sales calls. As with any tool, it should be spread throughout the presentation so it doesn’t sound forced or written, but it is an effective litmus test of potential client interest and helps us get closer to closing with minimal risk of rejection. Do you ask permission in your calls? What are some of the questions you would like to ask and why? Any comments or questions are welcome in the section below, and as always, if this information was helpful to you, please share it with anyone else who might enjoy it too!