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Sales Solutions
The Sales Solution – Be Direct vol 7, issue #1
January, 2010

The Rolling Stones had a hit tune back in the day called, "You Can't Always Get What You Want". Many of us in Sales can relate to that. We don't always get the call back. We don't always get the appointment. We don't always get to meet the decision-maker. We don't always get the order. Now it is, of course, unreasonable to expect to always get what we want. But wouldn't you agree that it is reasonable to believe that we might get what we want more often than we do if we changed the way we asked for it?

The sad fact is one of the reasons we don't get what we want more often is because we simply don't ask for it - or don't ask for it directly. We sort of kind of ask for it, but we don't really ask for it. For example, I was debriefing a sales rep one day who had just finished an initial exploratory meeting with a prospect. I asked him, "How did you end the meeting?" He replied proudly, "I asked, 'Do you think we could arrange a meeting with the other participants in the decision process?'" I really didn't want to burst his bubble, because some reps wouldn't even ask that - but I couldn't in good conscience applaud that response. "And?", I said. He replied, "She said, 'Yes, I think we could.'" I then asked him if asking something like, "The typical next step that customers take is to get all the decision makers together for a meeting in order to evaluate our solution for themselves. How about we pencil in a date - say, next Thursday? might not have been a better response. (A better solution, I have since discovered, is to use a handy, free, web-based tool called Doodle)".

Do you see the difference? The rep's response was not one that took control of the next step. Can you guess what followed for our rep over the next ten days? Not having attempted to pin down a date right there when he had the opportunity, he spent those next ten days chasing after his contact. He finally did get her, but only after wasting all that time - not to mention losing valuable momentum.

This begs the question - why not just be direct more often? Why not ask for what you want? In this example, if you were the rep, is knowing whether or not a meeting could be arranged with the other participants really what you want to know? No! It's the meeting itself that you want. So ask for it!

How about "closing" a sale - or as I prefer to say, asking for a commitment to do business together? When you sense the time is right (gee, that sounds eerily like an overplayed TV commercial I know!), are you bold enough to ask for what you want? And do you then ask for it - directly? Or do you dance around it and serve up some wishy-washy kinda, sorta request to maybe do business some day? Or worse - do you fail to ask at all?


You can't always get what you want. But you will get what you want more often if you start asking for it directly. Start by writing down phrases you could ask at the end of different kinds of interactions - a cold call, an initial meeting, a multi-participant presentation, responding to an objection, and closing a sale. Then practice with a buddy (or with a microphone, if you have no buddies - which is something I'm not qualified to help you with!), having him or her be the prospect, and you be the rep. First use responses that are not direct, and have your buddy respond. Then use the direct response for the same situation, and see how your buddy responds this time. I'm pretty certain those responses will, more often than not, get you what you want- the Rolling Stones' contention notwithstanding.

Good selling!

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