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Don’t Act Like a Seller, Think Like a Buyer! Requesting a Commitment

Don’t Act Like a Seller, Think Like a Buyer

Chapter 7: Requesting a Commitment

The final step in the DELTA process is asking for a commitment.

This step is often referred to as “closing the transaction”.

In a sales contact,

what is more important than closing the deal?

Is there a topic in reselling that gets covered more than this one?

After all,

closing skills are skills

that all managers feel their employees must practice more

in order to work more effectively.

Different closing methods have different names:

hypothetical method

(i.e. act as if the customer has already decided);

selection method

(i.e. asking the customer to choose only from the options you offer);

positive evidence method;

random method;

countervailing method

(ie giving positive and negative opinions about a product);

boomerang method

(i.e. extracting the main point of customer dissatisfaction

and turning it into a reason to continue the discussion);

triggering,

detail-locking methods

(i.e. asking customers about the details

of a product they’re interested in

if they’re really going to buy the product);

queuing method

(i.e. telling customers that if they don’t buy now,

they may not be able to buy it later);

method of intimidation

(ie giving customers reasons

for them to make a decision right away,

those reasons may be that the goods are scarce,

the price will go up…);

methods of inducing sympathy,

being likable;

order inquiry method;

method of closing by order;

summary method

(ie stating the benefits that customers will receive when buying the product);

special treatment method;

method of convincing that the purchase is risk-free;

revenue method;

the “pretend to give up” method;

method of asking for help…

***************

“It’s no longer about interrupting,

pitching,

and closing.

It is about listening,

diagnosing,

and prescribing.” –Mark Roberge

We will not discuss the above closing methods because:

(1) you can look them up in any good book on personal selling methods;

(2) the closing of the transaction is simply to get a commitment to do something,

other than what the potential customer has committed

or has/are doing.

The main difficulty is here.

Day after day, many good sales contacts take place.

Salespeople still have the right conversations,

interesting conversations,

and opportunities to tell their stories;

They also do it all in a believable,

engaging style.

Then, at the end of the meeting,

the story sometimes seemed disjointed

because it wasn’t tightly connected

to a logical ending.

The story is fragmented because,

as many psychological experiments have demonstrated,

by the time the transaction closes,

the attitudes of both the seller

and the buyer are not the same

as they were during the sales contact.

There’s something emotional about the prospect

that makes them feel differently about

what the salesperson is about

to ask them to do.

It can be anxiety,

caused by buyers regret

or worry that they made a purchase on impulse.

Am I too hasty to decide that?

Have I understood this salesman well?

Enough to believe him yet?

Is this decision correct?

For salespeople,

their anxiety is again:

the closing moment is the moment of truth

—the decisive moment:

“If I don’t get the order now,

I never will now get it,”

or: “I don’t want to be rejected.”

The fear of rejection is perhaps the biggest concern of all salespeople.

We have seen a very interesting phenomenon.

When there was no sales manager in the room,

we asked a group of salespeople to raise their hands

to vote if they agreed with the following statement:

“I am more inclined to ask a closing question

in the presence of my boss than

when I am alone.”

They all raised their hands.

Always the same.

Why is that?

Salespeople know very well that their boss wants them

to ask a closing question.

They understand that they need to do it

in order to be judged as doing a good job.

But at the same time,

they are often uncomfortable asking closing questions.

Because, if they feel comfortable,

they don’t have to have a boss to monitor them.

So why aren’t salespeople comfortable asking the usual closing questions?

They are uncomfortable

because most of the closing questions they learn year after year

do not match their personality.

If you’re not the aggressive or pushy type,

you won’t feel comfortable asking aggressive or pressing questions.

Those questions, such as:

“Do you want us to ship on Thursday or Friday?”

(selection method),

or “If I could show you how to reduce production costs

by 20% without sacrificing quality,

would you buy my product?” (random method).

Most of us,

by nature,

don’t like aggression.

Most of us are not pushy either.

Yet the closing questions we learn not only make us uncomfortable,

they also make our potential customers uncomfortable.

It can be easily seen through their words

as well as through their gestures.

Many salespeople don’t want to ask such questions

unless they’re under some kind of pressure.

Why deliberately make people uncomfortable?

Especially if you want

– or need

– their cooperation?

If this is the problem of closing the transaction,

what is the solution?

The solution is to focus on getting the commitment

rather than closing the deal.

A commitment is the appropriate end

to a casual conversation.

It is not necessary to obtain an order,

although it may be necessary.

That commitment may simply be

to arrange another meeting,

perhaps an opportunity

to meet the client’s own boss;

Or maybe it’s just to get people to agree

to keep your devices

at that company for a month and try them out.

With that definition in mind,

consider these six principles of asking for a pledge:

1. People are more likely to change attitudes

when you ask for a commitment than when you don’t.

2. Questions to ask for commitment need to make

both you and the client/potential customer feel comfortable.

3. To make big commitments,

you need to plan

before you go to the client.

4. The sensory test method of closing deals makes it easier

to ask questions that lead to commitment.

5. Commitments are a natural,

logical ending to a conversation.

6. Asking to be serious when someone makes a commitment

is perfectly acceptable,

and if you do this well,

your sales will increase.

Let’s look at each of the above principles in detail

“I have never worked a day in my life without selling.

If I believe in something,

I sell it,

and I sell it hard.” –Estée Lauder

*******************

COMMITMENTS TO CHANGE ATTITUDE

Getting a commitment

– whatever it is

– requires an extraordinary capacity.

People’s manners often match the commitments they make verbally;

most people will try to do what they say they will

(people who don’t try to do

what they say won’t be trustworthy customers or good friends).

People are more likely to change their behavior

if you ask them to commit than if you don’t.

However, salespeople often ask customers

to commit to something huge,

and almost always,

such commitment requests will cause resistance

and only lead to changes very small change in behavior.

On the contrary,

if you ask for a small commitment,

potential customers are more likely to follow through

because they feel the commitment is justified.

Therefore, you should ask customers

to try your product for a week or a month.

Or in a training program,

you should just ask customers to try the pilot program

and see how it fits their needs.

Similar things tend to lead

to larger attitude changes:

if the product delivers exactly

what the salesperson says,

customers are more likely

to continue to be interested in the product.

Once, a company asked me

to come up with a business message

to introduce a new product line to market.

The first rollout was in October,

and the second into another market two months later.

That company hired me

to speak at the first product launch meeting.

Before that,

they had seen how I worked.

I told them

that if I were to speak in the first meeting,

I should do the same in the next meeting.

The person who contacted me said he wanted to see

if I did well in the first meeting,

before committing to the second meeting.

You see, I asked for a commit,

which I thought was reasonable,

but I didn’t get it.

My assignment was to give a one-hour presentation

in front of 300 audiences.

At the end of the presentation,

I received endless applause.

As I walked to the back of the room,

the person who hired me to give the presentation,

and the same person I had offered

to do the second meeting, hugged me.

I whispered,

“I guess now is the right time

to ask you to sign your next contract,”

and he said,

“Let’s just pretend it’s signed.”

Commitments change behavior:

In particular, they change the behavior of

both customers and salespeople.

Customers tend to do what they say they will do;

And once you do exactly what you say you’re going to do,

they’ll be even more inclined

to do what you want them to do.

Be aware of the double commit issue here.

You are committed to doing the best job,

and providing the best service.

The customer promises to pay you.

When you receive the business contract,

to be able to open this business

and require additional commitments,

you must make one yourself.

The commitment I have to make is to get the job done

to the best of my ability.

This changed the client’s attitude,

and he voluntarily made a commitment in return

for my commitment to doing excellent work.

It is very important that you use “radar”

to detect the right to ask for a commitment.

You’ll have to judge

that based on the quality of the interaction

you’ve had with the other person.

You need to get a feel for whether the hypothesis

or rationale you are working on is really working

and having an impact on the customer.

This requires you to be a good listener.

“I think listening is really the ‘Achilles heel’ of salespeople

– especially young ones,”

says Shari Kulkis of Roche.

“They are deeply immersed in the business approach

and using ACR

– Acknowledge,

Clarify and Respond

– they follow a certain default way of thinking,

but they don’t listenable.

They always think about what

they want to get from the customer,

as well as the message they want to convey.

They only care about their own interests.

When you really listen to

what the customer has to say,

you can learn what their needs are,

where their problems lie,

what they are concerned about,

and what they are upset about what.

If you don’t listen,

you’ll miss out,

and the way you respond won’t satisfy all

of your customers’ needs.

After all, they won’t buy from you.”

Professor Dan Weilbaker of Northern Illinois University agrees

with Shari’s comments.

Over the years,

he said,

he’s been looking for ways

to teach listening more effectively.

“I gave a lot of instructions

with both lectures and exercises

to help students realize that they had to listen

to understand what I was saying.

I don’t ask them,

‘Do you understand?’

They have two options.

One is to ask me about it,

the other is to just do what they think they need to do.

If students do what they think they need to do and get it wrong,

their grades will suffer.

Most of the time students complain

and I take this opportunity

to emphasize that they are not listening.

You need to listen,

and if you don’t understand, ask again.”

The business training program

at Northern Illinois University also included role-playing

for teachers to record.

As the students reviewed themselves on the videotape,

the students began to notice things that

they had overlooked

during the back-and-forth interaction.

They can review what

they have done without any pressure.

“That usually helps a lot of students come to their senses,”

said Professor Dan.

“They go,

‘Oh my god,

this is what the client is saying

and I completely ignore it.’

They can see the importance of listening

and how effective it can be.

During the role play,

I said, ‘I really want this product,’

but they cut me off to tell me something else.

Then they watch the video again and say,

‘You told me you liked this product,

and you didn’t even mention it!’

I think it helps,

but I still do.

I haven’t found an effective method

to help students learn to listen better.”

Really good questions are the result of listening.

People with good listening skills are often the ones

to ask good questions,

because they really listen.

They not only hear the words,

but also understand the meaning,

nuances and hidden meanings of the other person

– or if they do not understand,

they will immediately ask questions to understand.

The combination of good listening

with good questioning helps

to properly understand

what the other person is saying.

Professor Dan said that listening attentively for students

and sales staff is very difficult.

“If I were a sales manager,” he said,

“I would work with my employees

and illustrate what they missed by not listening.

Then after a customer contact,

I would ask them,

‘Did you hear the customer say this?

What does that mean?

How do you understand that?

What’s going on here?’

Understand that you can only get clues

from what the customer says.”

One of those clues sometimes shows that you are…

choosing the wrong object.

Back to offering to commit.

Never underestimate the importance of a commitment.

You need to ask questions

to get the customer to commit,

whether your boss is present or not,

as such questions will have a profound effect

on the customer’s attitude.

Again, you must consider what should be done

to make the customer feel comfortable.

Look for questions that you find easy to ask,

and that the customer is comfortable answering,

such as,

“Do you think what we discussed today makes sense?

Would you mind giving us a visit?

candidly?”

And then listen to the answer

before continuing to speak.

No matter how hard it is,

it’s still something you have to do.

“Losers don’t have goals.

Winners have systems.” – Scott Adams

****************

QUESTIONS REQUIRED COMMITMENT MUST BE EASY

One of the keys to quality closing is making sure

you feel comfortable asking closing questions.

Questions that require commitment need to be comfortable

for both you and the client.

If you feel uncomfortable,

your attitude will make the customer feel uncomfortable too.

Commitment should be based on whether the customer finds

it reasonable and enforceable,

not just your own perception.

Closing a trade starts with how you think.

The anxiety I shared in this chapter is caused

by salespeople traditionally viewing the “close the deal” step

as a one-times-and-done event.

They think their boss expects them

to strike a deal right then and there,

or else the office will go to hell.

Closing a transaction is an integral part of a process.

This section may or may not push the deal

to its climax at that particular time,

or on that particular day.

If your thinking is correct

and you have carefully considered your plan,

you will see that the goal today is

to take just one step further in the buying

and selling process,

or to get your signature of customers in the contract.

In a meaningful conversation,

there should be no anxiety,

only comfortable questions,

and only then can you move forward.

So you have to get off to a good start

before you get to the end of the trade.

The environment you create at the beginning of the contact

will be closely related

to how you and the customer feel at the end of the transaction.

It’s important that you clearly understand what

you want to have in this conversation.

This clarity is needed during planning.

Define your specific goals for the meeting

– what do you want to happen?

It could be the successful closing of a sale,

but it could also be just

to learn more about the prospect’s needs,

the company’s buying process,

or the customer’s position in the organization in that position.

Your core goal might be to arrange another meeting.

The point is (you’ve heard of this) you have

to plan the conversation well.

This plan can be changed during the meeting,

because the nature of conversations is volatile.

Sometimes when you get there,

you realize that some issues have changed,

so you need to be flexible

when setting requirements for customers.

Remember:

selling is all about finding someone who is open,

willing to talk, and trusts

that they will have a mutual interest in what you offer them.

Try to understand the client’s situation,

try to make the customer understand

and win their agreement

before you present your hypothesis.

Potential customers will respond immediately

if what you say makes sense.

If, at the end of the presentation,

your hypothesis seems to be moving in the right direction,

you can ask, “How do you feel about that?”

Without the commitment of customers

to get them to visit the sales

and showcases quarterly,

the business of the direct sales representative

of the fashion company Doncaster would soon come to an end.

Lesley Boyer was once a successful representative of Doncaster.

Lesley says her role is to help customers

with their purchases

and to encourage them to commit to returning.

Lesley cites her new client,

Sharon, as a prime example.

Like 70% of Lesley’s business, Sharon was a referral.

Over the phone,

Sharon learned about prices in Doncaster.

Sharon told Lesley she was taking a year off from work,

and said,

“I want to start over.

I want you to help me renew myself completely.”

Lesley told me,

“The first feeling I had was dollar signs in my eyes,

like Scrooge McDuck ducks,

and that was a real danger.

I don’t want that feeling.

I think by the time a girl is ten,

a girl already knows what she wants,

and Sharon is no longer a ten-year-old girl.

It’s not easy to “lead” her.

So I told Sharon we had to think.”

Sharon asked Lesley what color she went with.

Sharon is a woman with plaster-white skin

and dark brown eyes.

Lesley said, “Red.

And now I have a red coat here.

I thought you said you liked a long coat.”

Lesley handed the shirt to Sharon and said, “Try it on.”

Sharon put it on and said, “Awful!”

“Tell me what you see,” Lesley said.

“Tell me about the bright colors you have in your wardrobe.”

Sharon paused, and said,

“I don’t have any bright colors.”

“Then you see,” Lesley told Sharon,

“you don’t have any red

my wardrobe, so even if I think red suits you well,

it doesn’t matter.

She’s the one who’s going to wear it,

and if she doesn’t have any red in her closet right now,

there’s no reason why she should try wearing red.

I don’t want to take on the responsibility of telling her what to wear,

because these clothes will end up in her closet,

and then she’ll get mad at me.

I want you to come back

and I want you to refer your friends to shop at my place.

So let’s talk about what you already have,

and we should just add what you’re used to.

Today we should add more wardrobe than revamp it.

We have four product launches a year,

so next time you can buy a few more there.”

Lesley accomplished many goals at once.

She assured Sharon that she had enough money

to furnish a brand new wardrobe,

but she didn’t have to.

Lesley helped Sharon with the purchase on the first date,

but more importantly she got a commitment from Sharon,

she would return to buy at the product launch afterwards.

Indeed, Sharon went to Lesley’s referrals two or three times a year,

for many years,

even after she became pregnant and gave birth

to two more children.

“Do what others don’t and you’ll get what others won’t.” – Aysa Hazan

*****************

IMPORTANT COMMITMENTS START WITH PLAN BEFORE THE CONTACT

The most effective questions to lead

to commitment are those that are planned in advance,

which progress naturally in your story,

and eventually lead to closing a deal.

Planning before contact with customers is not a rigid process,

but on the contrary,

must be very flexible.

Part of Tim Wackel’s pre-client planning is

to prepare everything well.

If sales were to be stopped,

or stalled in the middle of a promising sale,

he would have a plan

to “push” the customer lightly.

“Sometimes everything seems to be going great,

but then the leads just disappear,” says Tim.

“They don’t answer my calls and emails anymore.

I understand that my client is busy,

and that I am not at the top of their to-do list.

It’s the money,

the life,

the family,

the financial freedom,

the vacation planning…

But if the previous meetings worked,

and I gave they have enough time,

have actively contacted,

but they still do not contact me,

then I will contact them one last time.”

This communication will usually be done via email

or sometimes voicemail.

He would first apologize for wasting the prospect’s time, and say,

“From past conversations,

I get the impression

that you are quite interested in our product.

It seems to me that we have found a possible solution together.

I thought we were getting closer to doing something.

However, since he hasn’t responded,

I think either the problem has been resolved,

he has found someone else

to do this for us,

or this is no longer a priority for him.

I want to prove my perseverance,

but at the same time don’t want to be a nuisance to you,

that’s why I will wait for your response.

We will not attempt to contact you further,

unless you still need us and contact us again.”

Apologetic tone of voice

(We’re sorry to have taken your time.)

Realistic message

(We think things are going in the right direction…

this is what we assume.

his non-response indicates that something has changed.)

Tim says he usually gets an email reply

within a few hours that says,

“No, please write me a letter little.

I’m sorry.

I’m so busy these days.

Our side just reorganized.

I have some family matters to deal with.”

Almost always,

potential customers cite some compelling reason

for not being able to respond sooner.

Tim says,

“Usually a customer or prospect will come back and say,

‘I’m so sorry.

Yes, I have received your email,

but please forgive me,

I have not been able to reply

because I have been busy,

but please don’t withdraw from this work.’

Once I say I don’t want to do it bother them,

they’ll probably say they’re

still interested in the case.”

Tim says that,

in his experience,

most salespeople will continue

to leave messages and keep emailing customers.

“I teach salespeople that you can make a career

by finding ‘Yes’

or ‘No’ answers.

Both are good answers,

but of course ‘Yes’ is better.

And ‘Maybe’ is the answer that completely fails you.

Make sure your potential customers say ‘Yes’,

or allow them to say ‘No’.

As for the exchanges

and conversations that are not answered,

not damaged

Aiming for clear,

precise results is just a waste of time.”

And don’t forget that the customer’s commitment can be “No”,

and that’s not a bad thing.

“In business as in life,

you don’t get what you deserve,

you get what you negotiate.” –Dr. Chet Karrass

*****************

THE FEEL TEST ENDING METHOD WILL MAKE THE PROBLEM OF COMMITMENT EASY

One of the easiest ways to get comfortable

with closing questions is

to use the “try it out” approach.

This is a method for creating closing questions using words like

who,

what,

where,

why,

how much,

and when,

combined with sensory words like look,

think ,

touch,

hear,

feel,

and see.

When you ask questions like this,

customers will usually feel comfortable answering,

and you should also “relax” when asking them those questions.

Before asking a customer commitment question,

it is a good idea to ask a “probing” consent question.

Here are some examples:

° How do you see that?

° If you think it makes sense, in the next few weeks,

when there is an opportunity to use similar products like this,

can you try ours?

° Does this argument make sense to you?

° A little glance at the product seems to make sense,

doesn’t it?

° In your opinion,

does what we have discussed sound appropriate to what you are doing?

° I feel like we’ve done everything we’ve agreed to,

so what do you want us to continue?

° How do you feel about what we discussed today?

It is a process of discovery.

What you are trying to do is discover the nature of the situation.

Does the customer understand your hypothesis?

Is your hypothesis convincing and is it time to “take action”?

You can identify situations, problems,

and challenges that potential customers say they want to solve,

but don’t actually want to solve.

Assuming they want to deal with it,

it’s not right now,

or they place it less of a priority than anything else.

Part of what salespeople need to learn in this process is

to determine if this problem

(or opportunity) is so important

to the customer that they need to act now.

And if not now,

when?

By asking the customer,

“How do you see this?”

you will have a chance to see how they rate your hypothesis.

So, what kind of response can you expect from the client?

We hear only two types of answers to the above question:

“Yes, that sounds good,”

or, “Yes, that sounds good… but…”

We very rarely, really, hear them. say no”.

The answer like “Yes…but,”

is actually “No.”

However,

“Yes…but” is often an opportunity for the client

to explain the shortcomings they see in your argument,

or to explain the problems they see

as still an obstacle before completing the transaction.

Translate.

If you ask, “How do you feel about this?”,

and they say,

“Sounds great,”

they are signaling that it is now up to you

to find out if they are ready to buy.

Some questions you can ask are,

“If it sounds good,

how would you feel if we suggested you give it a try?

Shall we deliver these 20 products to you next Thursday?”

In other words, if they already agree with your hypothesis,

they are implicitly allowing you to go one step further.

If they say, “Sounds great…but,” then

that “but” becomes the most important issue of the sales contact:

But… we already have too much stock.

But… I’m still worried about your prices.

But… we’ve never dealt with you guys before.

But… you’re not in the same system as us.

But… we only accept one source.

But… I’m not the only decision maker…

The business world is full of “buts”.

They’re the key factors that get you closer to a sale,

because they tend to reveal the real reasons why someone isn’t ready

to complete a transaction or make a purchase.

When you come across the word

“but” (an expression of disapproval) in a business conversation, do three things:

***************

1. Recognition:

Make sure you recognize your customer’s concern or problem

and show empathy for them.

The worst thing is that you continue to push,

ignore or ignore the customer’s concerns.

“Commit to the income, not the problem.” – Grant Cardone

*****************

2. Clarification:

Either reconfirm what you’ve heard to get to the core of the customer’s concerns;

or if it’s not clear, ask questions to get a better understanding.

Salespeople – who are too sensitive to customer concerns

– to customer objections, sometimes respond

with a completely different grievance.

Don’t assume you know all the things the customer

is aiming for if you don’t already have more information.

“Forward thinkers don’t copy.

They don’t compete

they create.” – Grant Cardone

*****************

3. Feedback:

Correct the problem or resolve what you misunderstood.

Henry Potts of consulting firm Melillo suggests to good salespeople that,

if objection, such as,

“We don’t have the money right now,”

they should continue to probe.

I will pay the price if I do nothing!

Focus on whether your product

or service improves the overall cost structure of your customer.

“Any CEO who runs a company,

no matter what type of company,” says Henry,

“is very concerned with cutting costs,

increasing business efficiency,

increasing sales, or all three.

Ideally, all three of these should be done.

Every salesperson who has a message to convey at that level needs

to be able to communicate.

It’s not a matter of whether or not there is enough funding for this?

It’s about making an investment

so that it can be profitable

and in the end the total cost is minimal.”

“I found that if I just do the best that I can,

in every moment I have,

the future looks after itself.” –John Kavanagh

********************

COMMITMENT IS A PERFECT END OF A DIALOG

Any conversation will eventually come to an end.

Sometimes the ending will be nothing special, such as:

“Talk to you later,”

“See you later,”

or “I’ll call you next Monday,”

but with With these sentences,

we would normally end the conversation with a commitment.

It’s a natural thing to do,

although we don’t always want a formal commitment, like,

“I’ll call you at 2:30 on Monday.

Is that convenient for you?”

This is one of the problems that salespeople often face:

they think every customer transaction must end

with some kind of formal commitment.

Every conversation requires an appropriate closing,

and that closing can lead to,

or is, a commitment,

but it doesn’t have to be.

Customer interaction is a dynamic process.

I recently had a conversation

with a potential client I was working to close.

I asked a friend to tell the customer

to call me at the golf course.

For me, it’s a business interaction.

But it was also a short conversation. I said,

“How are you?

How are things?

I haven’t heard from you in a long time.”

He said, “You know what,

we were told today there are some changes,

and I need to talk to you

because we’re going to need your services.”

I said he should call me back,

and ended the conversation

without asking for a commitment.

A week later,

I sent him an email,

which included my schedule

and suggested a date if he could arrange a time;

Or, I ask, is it still too early to talk now?

I still haven’t asked the client to commit.

Five minutes later,

I received an email from the above customer,

saying that he had informed the sales team in his company

that the company would use our service,

and that he would reply to me about the date I proposed.

I will have to ask for a commitment at some point,

but not every sale requires a commitment to be properly closed.

Closing the deal appropriately means:

having clarity on what you’re trying to accomplish,

and making sure you end the conversation the right way.

Closing the right way can mean

that you have to create certain actions

to speed up the sales process.

To get a deal or a clever question

to get the customer to commit,

you have to find a particular action

or new behavior that makes the customer more inclined to agree.

This will happen because that action

or behavior will help you make the most of what the two of you have discussed,

and it doesn’t seem unreasonable

or too greedy to the client.

Don’t ask the customer to commit

or agree to everything,

just ask the customer

to agree on a part that you deserve,

based on the conversation.

“Conquer yourself and the world lies at your feet.” –St. Augustine

*******************

REQUIRED SERIOUSLY IN COMMITMENT

It’s perfectly acceptable to ask seriously

when someone makes a commitment,

and if you do this well,

your sales will increase.

Here’s an example of what not to do:

An acquaintance

I haven’t contacted in two years sends me an email,

then calls me and says,

“We need to talk..

We need you… send me the proposal.”

I spent an hour on the phone with him,

and another two

or three hours drafting the proposal,

but I never asked him about the seriousness of the commitment.

I consider his commitment serious, based on the tone

and content of the conversation,

as well as the email he sent me.

It was a huge mistake because since then,

I haven’t heard from him again.

I left him four texts,

three or four emails and more,

but got no response.

Since he seemed serious,

I was subjectively not checking

to see if his commitment was really serious.

I should have

I should say something like,

“After talking to you,

I feel like it’s important to you

to draft the proposal quickly,

and that if I draft it,

– and budget isn’t too big of a deal for us

– then you’ll stick to it.

Am I right to say that?”

Maybe then he’ll say,

“Yes, you’re right,”

or “No, we’re just getting started,”

or “The budget is a big deal.”

Or something else that means “No.”

But unfortunately many people don’t have the courage

to say it outright that they are just in the early stages

of the buying process;

or tell you they’re just scouting places;

or, to be nice, they say,

“Yeah, just send me a proposal.”

There are salespeople who still say to me,

“I visited this customer.

The contact was very successful.

They seem interested in our product.

They told me to send them a proposal,

but then I got no response.”

I told the staff that they hadn’t checked the seriousness

of the client’s commitment.

If a guest promises to do business with you,

you have every right to ask:

“Is your commitment serious?

Is it enough for me to draft a proposal [or schedule,

or order spare parts,

or do whatever your organization will have to do in the next step]?

I am willing to do these things to complete the work you request,

but I do so only

because I believe there is a high probability

that you will do business with us.

If I misunderstood,

please just tell me straight.”

When you take closing deals to the next step,

checking the seriousness of your commitment,

you will increase your odds of reaching a deal dramatically,

because you’ve eliminated people

who aren’t really serious about the deal purchase.

You will find that,

what they say is not necessarily what they think.

You will probably meet people who say to you,

“I am not the final decision maker,

but I think this is exactly what we have to do,

so give me a proposal

and I will act card to help you.”

That shows that you are choosing the wrong object to exchange.

So instead of wasting time drafting a proposal,

you need to find the right person first.

So the next step you have to take in the process is not to draft a proposal

and hope for a sale,

but to find someone who

is both serious about the commitment

and can stand up to it, that end.

You have to be mindful of your assumptions,

test them against your own potential customers.

Valerie Sokolosky’s omission in negotiating (as she has realized)

is that budgets aren’t a hindrance,

but she hasn’t tested that assumption with the client (see Chapter 4) .

There’s nothing wrong with saying,

“I’m guessing you’ve budgeted for this deal, haven’t you?

Can you talk to me about it for a bit?”

Then stop and listen.

When you check the seriousness of someone’s commitment,

if it’s not serious,

you’ll see they’re backing away.

And when you find out they are backing down,

you should know that you haven’t got the deal.

Salespeople very often fail

to check the seriousness of a prospect’s commitment.

This is one of the most overlooked things in the sales process.

And at the same time,

asking traditional closing questions

that you don’t feel comfortable

with is the worst way to ask for commitment from a client.

If you really want to increase your chances of success,

check the seriousness of your customer’s commitment.

And you have every right to do so.

Sometimes people say to me,

“Send me a proposal.”

Usually I would reply,

“I won’t do proposals.

If I remember correctly,

I told you how much they cost.

I told him what we were going to do.

I have already shown our progress.

Why do I need to make a proposal?

If you tell me that if I send a proposal you will sign it,

I will be happy to write it.”

Ninety percent of this is successful;

remaining ten percent,

you submit a proposal but still no transaction.

But if the client

and I had had a meaningful conversation before,

I understood how the situation was,

I explained how our projects usually cost,

and they took it seriously commitment,

I’ll feel free to say that I won’t draft a proposal at all.

Most people with serious commitments will stay true

to their commitments.

There is incredible strength in those commitments.

However, there is a difference

between a soft commitment

and a firm commitment.

A flexible commitment yields modest results.

Solid commitments produce tangible,

valuable results.

I always mon

wants to turn soft commitments into strong commitments.

Most salespeople are happy

to receive a flexible commitment,

as this is like a “eureka!” (found it!) I’m done!

However, you are not done

until the customer places an order.

If you want to increase your chances of success in getting this deal,

turn the soft commitments you have into solid ones

by testing the seriousness of your clients.

Pushing for a firm commitment requires four things:

*****************

1. Establish a positive mindset

and clearly understand what

you need to accomplish

to push the client or prospect forward.

“Have a higher purpose than money.” – Grant Cardone

*****************

2. Plan and think through the appropriate closing questions

and procedures,

or think through the questions carefully

before proceeding to the closing process

(or any other process) in a manner,

that you feel most comfortable raising.

Make sure you feel okay

with the questions you’re about to ask.

*****************

3. State your assumptions

and ask questions so that your client

or prospect won’t be upset and will see this

as a logical follow-up to the discussion.

********************

“Be nice to people.

It doesn’t cost anything.” – Grant Cardone

4. Listen to customer feedback.

This response may not be an order,

and that’s okay,

but it’s not necessarily a rejection either;

it is an ongoing part of a dialogue process.

Remember, closing the deal is not the end of the business;

it must be seen as a continuation of the business or discussion.

Closing a transaction is a process.

And even the best sales process can be further improved

by building positive business relationships.

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Angel Cherry

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