A lot of entrepreneurs all ask me the same question, "Hey Mark, if you're the 'Sales Made Simple Coach', what 's the one piece of advice you can give me to make my sales process easier and more effective?"
And here 's what I tell them:
In its simplest form, the selling process is just a conversation between two (or more people). That 's it - nothing fancy. And really, its pretty difficult to make a whole lot of mistakes in a real conversation.
But there is one critical mistake that a person can make in a sales conversation. And that 's where this Number One Best Piece Of Sales Advice Ever, comes in.
The only mistake you can really make in a sales conversation is to NOT ask for the sale.
Simple, right? Yet tons of entrepreneurs (heck even a number of sales professionals I know) are guilty of omitting this part of their sales conversations.
Hockey superstar, Wayne Gretzky is famous for a number of reasons, and one of my favorites is a phenomenal quote he made:
You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
I've always liked that quote. No matter what, we all miss 100% of the shots we don't take. To me it acts as a constant reminder to "go for it" - whether it be sports or business, or life in general.
And I think this quote relates directly to sales - in fact, I like to paraphrase Mr. Gretzky 's line:
You miss 100% of the sales you don't ask for.
No matter how good (or bad) of a sales person you are (or think you are) you will miss 100% of the sales you don't ask for. But here 's the thing, even if you're the self-confessed, worst sales person in the world, you can cover a multitude of "sales sins", simply by asking for the sale.
You miss 100% of the sales you don't ask for.
Well, ok - maybe that 's a slight over-exaggeration. After all, we've all had the experience where a customer actually asks US for our product or service without us having to ask them for the sale. But for the most part, it holds true.
If you don't A-S-K, you don't G-E-T.
And as I said earlier, asking for the sale seems to be a huge stumbling block for a lot of entrepreneurs and small business people. So if you find you also have this problem, you're not alone. And I'm here to help!
Now obviously, we all know we should ask for the sale. We've heard it hundreds of times, we've read about it, and we're confident that we know its the "right thing to do". So why then are there so many hold-ups that stop us from actually doing it?
Well, one of the most common explanations as to why we don't ask is simple: fear. Most of us have an innate fear of rejection. Sometimes it seems to stem back our high school days, when we really wanted to ask that cute person to dance - but we didn't because we were afraid of the rejection (and that long lonely walk back across the gymnasium floor!). And we realized then, that if we don't ask the question, we won't get rejected. Like a lot of things, it 's just easier to not take action.
Besides, when we're looking at sales, if we don't get rejected, then "technically" the sale is still a 'potential possibility' in our minds. And a 'potential possibility' means that there 's still a (slim) chance for the prospect to say "yes". However, at the bank I deal with, I've found that it 's really tough to get a loan, or cash a check written by 'potential possibility'!
See, when we ask for the sale, one of three things generally happens. The customer tells us "no". The customer voices an objection. Or the customer tells us "yes".
When you look at each of these three outcomes, the thing to remember is this: they are ALL positive outcomes. Let me explain what I mean by this.
If the customer says "yes", well, that 's obvious. It 's a positive outcome because you've attained your goal - you've got a sale! Congratulate yourself and finish up the sales process with your new customer.
A customer voicing an objection is also a positive outcome. The reason it 's positive is simply because they haven't said "no". In fact, objections are generally another way for a customer to say "I'm still not 100% sold yet and I need some more information." Keep on selling.
Finally, when a customer says "no" it too is a positive. And here 's why. Sure, its "bad" because they're not taking you up on your sale, but another way to look at it, is to change the word "no" into "not right now". Use that opportunity to ask their permission to keep in touch with them in the future - and make sure you do! You never know what changes are going to happen with a prospect that can quickly and easily turn your "not right now" into a "yes".
The bottom line is this: never be afraid to ask for the sale. At worst, you'll find out why they're not buying from you, or why they're not buying yet (both very valuable pieces of information!). At best, you'll have the sale and be ready to move on to the next prospective customer.
But no matter what - even if it strikes fear in your heart and makes you feel queezy - ALWAYS ask for the sale.
Mark Winder, the Sales Made Simple Coach, helps entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals aim higher and achieve more. Winder is the author of "Mark Winder 's Sales & Marketing Bootcamp", and the free audio seminar, "The 20 Sales Secrets of Top Entrepreneurs".