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Sales Solutions
Asking for Commitment vol 2, issue #19
October 15, 2004

All of us in sales have, since day one, had it drilled into us that we must "ask for commitment" from the buyer. Unfortunately, too many of us interpret this to mean simply, "ask for the order". Thus, we feel that the only time to ask for commitment is at the end of the sale - at the "close" - when we ask for the Ultimate Commitment. In reality, you should be asking for commitments at various points in a sales cycle. Why? Well, any of you who have experienced "things were going so great, why won't she call me back" syndrome will understand why. First, if a prospect is unwilling to agree to do even the smallest request, what does that signal to you about how serious this prospect is? Second, the more commitments you get your prospect to make and keep, the more he has invested in the deal, the more he's stuck his neck out, the more difficult it will be for him to simply walk away from it. Think about it. If your contact has invested lots of his personal time, and gotten others to do the same (including the boss); if this investment has become a high- profile one throughout the organization, it's going to be pretty difficult for him to simply pull out and say, "we're just going to stick with the status quo", without getting a whole lot of egg on his face.

Remember, commitment is a two-way street. Too often, out of an eagerness to please, we commit to doing something for our prospects without asking for a reciprocal commitment from them. You have just as much of a right to ask a qualified prospect to invest time and effort to get you what you need as he does to ask you to get him what he needs.

Action Item

Next time your prospect asks you to "send him some literature", agree, but reply with, "Sure, I'll be happy to. To allow you the time you need to review it, shall I give you 7 days or 10 in which to do so, before I call to continue our discussion?" Next time your prospect says, "can you bring your team in to do a demo", reply with, "Sure, and whom will you be inviting to attend the demo? May I ring them and introduce myself?" If you're not getting reciprocal commitments from your prospect equal to or greater than the ones you're being asked to make, that's a big red flag that you must address immediately, before even thinking about proceeding. Better to ferret out early a prospect who is unlikely to play ball with you, and who is likely, in the end, to have wasted your precious time, and instead move on to one that will work with you to achieve their objectives through an investment in your product or service.

Good Selling!

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