From chapter 16 of The Savvy Guide To Making More Money
Script 7: Asking for the sale
Have a plan, have a plan, have a plan. If you're not tired of hearing it by now, I'm not tired of saying it again. Your plan projects you into the future - once you've achieved the current step, what's next? What's on the other side? Ostensibly, a sale is the exchange of a product and/or a service for money. However, there can be several steps before that: in the example of the hotel, I outlined the different steps that led from a leisurely stroll at an exhibition to actually making the booking.
A 'sale' happens when you convince someone of doing something that would benefit both them and you. But it is not necessarily the exchange of something for money. It could be asking somebody to:
Give you their contact details.
Take a phone call.
Have a meeting with you.
Put you on a supplier list.
Consider a proposal.
All these activities lead up to the monetary sale, which is the end goal after all. It's important that you ask only for one 'sale' at a time, as you need to build trust and avoid overwhelming the other party. Let me set the scene for the three ways that a phone call with a target customer could go. Let's say I'm selling software with a €100 per month price tag:
me: Good morning, Mark. Susan here, we met last week at the business breakfast.
mark: Oh, hello, Susan. Thank you for following up.
me: You're very welcome. I enjoyed the event last week. Did you find it beneficial?
mark: I met a couple of people that I had been meaning to catch up with for a while, so from that perspective, it was worthwhile.
me: That's good. Mark, I just wanted to pick up on our conversation, as you mentioned that you might be interested in what we offer.
mark: Sure, go ahead.
The conversation goes on for about ten minutes: I answer all of Mark's questions confidently and capably.
mark: That sounds interesting, and we've been thinking about a way to solve our problem.
me: So may I have your credit card details and I'll create a twelve-month order for you?
me: Well, if you have any questions in the future, you have my number.
me: I'll be in your area next week - why don't I call in, while I'm there and I can give you a demonstration.
mark: Sure, that sounds good. I'll be here for most of the week. Give me a call when you know your schedule.
me: Why don't we confirm a time since we're on the phone? Let me just check my calendar here... Would Thursday at 3 p.m. suit?
Let's consider what happened in each of the three cases. In Scenario 1, I jumped right into asking for a sale from somebody who had just met me the week before, who didn't have any experience of our product to date, and who was asked to commit to a twelve-month contract costing €1,200 in the first ten minutes of conversation. It's not very likely that I will be successful with this scenario. In fact, it's far more likely that he'll quickly make his excuses to get off the phone and avoid me at any future networking events. This is too pushy: I've completely jumped ahead without giving him a chance to see how he might benefit.
In Scenario 2, I left the opportunity on the table and walked away. He gave me some positive cues that he was interested, but since he didn't expressly use the words 'I would like to buy from you', I didn't progress the sale to the next stage. I have to admit that I fell into this trap lots of times in the early days, because I just didn't have the confidence to steer the conversation into the next phase. However, practice helps a lot, and, again, if you really believe in what you're selling, leaving a sale on the table denies the other person the opportunity to benefit.
In Scenario 3, I've asked for a little more commitment on the part of the potential customer. I'm asking him to tell me straight if he's interested: 'Yes, Thursday at 3 p.m. is fine' or 'I'm actually out at that time - could we meet earlier in the day?' If he's not interested, he now has an opportunity to tell me: 'Why don't you let me look at your website instead and I can call you back, if we want to take it further.' If somebody makes a move to end a conversation before any concrete plans have been made, the simple question of 'Do you have your diary with you and we could put a provisional time down now?' will uncover whether they're seriously interested or not. If he agrees to the meeting, I have a chance to show him exactly how the system operates, what it can do and how it could work for him; and I can draw out his objections. At the end of that second conversation, the right time to ask him for the monetary sale will have arrived.