The Sales Training Series – Ask for a Commitment at a Time
Salespeople are called upon to perform many tasks, from customer training to market analysis. But we must never forget the core value we bring to our organizations, the real reason we stay on the payroll: We’re great at gaining commitment from paying customers. But at least we’re supposed to be.
Why don’t customers engage? Because sellers don’t ask for it!
Yet unbelievably, four out of six sales calls end without the salesperson asking the customer to commit to some action that will move the process toward a sale. The salesperson presents some product information, maybe leaves some brochures, and then leaves.
That’s a transvestite. Here’s how to prevent that from happening.
1. Always set an Engagement Goal before every call. You can have any number of valid goals for a sales call, but an engagement goal is a particular type of goal. It is an agreement that seeks from the customer to do something that will advance the sales process.
Your engagement goal is not always to get an order. This may be to get a referral to the actual decision maker, or to schedule another meeting with all the decision makers present, or to gain lead provider status.
Before each call, ask yourself: What commitment will I try to get from this customer during the call? How will this commitment drive the sales process?
2. Watch and listen for buy signals. These can take the form of questions, statements, or body language. “How much does it cost?” “How soon can you deliver?” “I like what you’re saying.” These are all signs that it is time for you to ask for commitment.
3. Ask for commitment in a direct and non-manipulative way.
a) Summarize the features and benefits of your product and quote the price.
b) Ask: “What is your opinion on this?”
c) Ask: “Would you like to go ahead with that?”
Whenever you quote a price, always ask for a commitment. To put it another way, never quote a price without asking for a commitment right away.
Once again, gaining commitment is the main mission of every salesperson. But you won’t get it if you don’t ask. Begin the planning of each sales call by determining the commitment you want and how you will request it.
In the countryside:
Since 1990, when Patterson Dental (PDCO) began training its North American sales force with Action Selling sales training, the company has become the largest distributor of dental supplies and equipment in the United States and Canada.
Jim Violette, branch manager of the Spokane, Wash., facility credits Action Selling for a turnaround at his branch. “My sales force has acted like a completely different team since we implemented the action selling approach,” Violette said. “Our abilities to Earn Commitment have improved dramatically.”
That’s an understatement, both for the Spokane branch and for the company as a whole. With nearly $1.6 billion in sales, Patterson has grown 17% a year and increased its market share by 32% in the last five years.