It amazes me in working with some individuals, how they can do all the hard parts of the sales cycle and then drop the ball at the very end; which is the easiest step of all.
I was on a joint sales call last week. They had made the ‘cold call’ and secured the appointment. We went in and he had immediately built some rapport with the client. My thought at this point was that he was putting some of the skills and techniques that we had developed together and was well on his way to becoming a professional. He got to the ‘pain’ that the customer was experiencing and masterfully developed his presentation around the three ‘pain’ points that he had uncovered.
During the presentation, pricing was never brought up, as at this point, the prospect would have paid anything to eliminate the pain he was not even aware he had and he needed it taken care of immediately. At the end, he asked if there were any questions to which the prospect said: ‘No. Everything makes perfect sense and the solution you presented is something we could use.’ I’m thinking to myself: ‘Great job.’ Then to my utter amazement, I hear from the sales person: ‘Thank you for your time. I will follow-up with you in a few days.’ I was in complete shock.
‘As a salesperson, what is your number one duty and objective?’
If this was an isolated case it would be bad enough, but I see it so often that it is bewildering. The question I asked him when we were outside and ready to debrief the call was: ‘As a salesperson, what is your number one duty and objective?’ To which he correctly answered: ‘To sell.’ ‘Exactly!’ I exclaimed; ‘which you did a great job in there doing, but I have to ask you: Why didn’t you ask for the order?’
He looked at me puzzled and said he had the order because the prospect had told him that it made perfect sense and it was something he could use. I just shook my head and stated: ‘Then, I must have fallen asleep for a minute or two because I did not see the purchase order.’ I then got: ‘Oh, I’ll get that when I follow-up with him in a few days.’ The conclusion is that he had absolutely nothing.
I don’t understand, we do all the hard work; find the prospect, the bonding and rapport, research, find the ‘pain,’ go through all the steps, handle all the objections and stalls, discuss the budget and pricing to make it fit and when it is all said and done, we don’t do the easiest step of all which is to ask for the order. Why? Is it because we are still afraid that they will reject us? Is it that we didn’t feel confident in our presentation? Are we unsure that all of the objections are out, or, we don’t know how to ask for it without sounding pushy and demanding? There is a five word statement that will answer all of those concerns and it is: ‘What is our next step?’ They now inform you that they need to see something else, they have questions on a couple of points, there is still some confusion, or, give you either a purchase order or say it’s not a fit which is absolutely fine as you at least have a decision.
The prospect above was ready to give the purchase order. All the buying signals were there. The only thing he didn’t say was: ‘Just ask for the order and I will give it to you.’ A few days later, there was a follow-up call and the order was given to the company he was currently dealing with. By not asking for the order at the time, not only did he lose that sale, but subsequent sales even though he was able to clearly demonstrate that he had value in recognizing issues that the prospect was not even aware of. He inadvertently solidifies the competitor’s presence in the account. The competitor is now also aware of the threat that he represents and they have become better prepared to service that account.
Unless you ask, the answer is always no. Therefore, what is your next step?