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When Do I Ask For The Sale?

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Asking for the sale could arguably be the hardest part of the sales process. It will surprise you to learn that I don’t agree (ha!) with that, but I do want to talk about the importance of timing in asking for the business.

It’s important to not ask before you’ve earned the right to, but it’s equally important to wait too long to ask as well. Confusing, right?

Let’s break this down.

What happens when we ask for the sale or to do business with someone too soon?

Frankly, we get a no, or worse – a maybe. And we believe that it’s a no because we’re not good enough, they can’t afford us, or whatever other reasons we tell ourselves about why people don’t want to do business with us.

In all honestly, getting a no when you’ve asked too soon probably has very little to do with YOU and your value, but rather you haven’t spent enough time learning about the prospect, their needs and challenges, and how important it is for them to make a change. Without this information, you can’t build value specifically for the prospect.

Let me dig in a little bit deeper. When you ask for the sale before you’ve really built a relationship, the no could easily be just that. They don’t know you well enough and they don’t trust you enough to make an investment. If you do have a relationship, but you’re still hearing no, it’s likely because you haven’t really explained how your solution can really benefit them.

It’s important to be specific. It’s above and beyond your elevator pitch about what you do and who you help. It’s letting them know you can solve their very specific problem. If you ask too soon, without having enough information, you’ll have a hard time painting this picture.

Simply put, if you ask for the sale too soon, you’re more likely to hear no or maybe – simply because you haven’t build enough value and shown the prospect how you can specifically help them with their challenge.

Make sense?

Let’s talk about waiting too long to ask for the sale.

We’ve built a relationship, we’ve learned about the prospects specific needs, we’ve answered their concerns, and we’ve been a sounding board for them for their problems. Sounds like a best case scenario, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not. One of two things can happen here.

1 – You’ve formed a relationship with the client that makes it easy to say no. When you’re too close, too friendly, providing too much value without a working relationship – you become overfamiliar. And in turn, easy to say no to. It’s easier to say no to someone that you know, someone that you know won’t take it personally, and someone is who more likely to continue helping you anyway, right?

Yes, you can make it too easy for someone to say no.

2 – Aside from over familiarity, waiting too long to ask for the sale can create a perception that you’re not that valuable. Harsh, I know. But when we provide too much for free, help someone at the drop of a hat, and become over available during their research phase, we appear too “available” and therefore – not as valued.

Sounds like dating right – you want to appear interested, but not too interested. You want to play hard too get, but not too hard.

But, in all seriousness – when you continue to work for someone for free – what’s their incentive to pay you?

How do you know when to ask for the sale?

You can ask for the sale when you know you’ve built a strong relationship with prospect, you know they trust you to solve their problem, and you fully understand how your solution will help them with their specific problem. Once you know all of these things – you’re safe to ask for the sale!

The best way to figure out if your timing is right is to follow a specific sales process. That way, you know where in the process you should insert your “ask.” The more systematic your approach, the more comfortable you will become in knowing when you’ve earned the right to invite someone to enter into a business relationship with you.

I also encourage you to think about what you need to know about your prospect to be certain you can help them. This will be different for each one of your reading this, but I encourage you to come up with three to five pieces of information you have to have to be able to enter into the ask phase of your sales process. This way, you can follow your process even while letting the conversation happen naturally and at the potential client’s speed! Win win for both of you!

Need help? I’d love to work through it with you! Shoot me an email and we can find a time to jump on a quick call to work through it! 

Sales Skills for Non Salespeople

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Okay, so you’re not “in sales” so to speak. Your business and livelihood isn’t tied to actually selling something to someone else – BUT you’re still responsible for getting stuff done.

  • You lead a team.
  • You influence others.
  • You negotiate terms.
  • You need or want something from someone (in business).

You need sales skills to get any of these things done. We can call it something else, if that makes you feel better…but for today’s purposes, we’re calling them sales skills.

There are plenty of different “skills” one can master to influence others, but I want to focus on three really important things to start with.

Listen

The most important thing you can do before you ask someone for anything is to really listen to them. Who are they? What are their pain points? What are they responsible for? How are they motivated?

When you ask these questions and then really listen to the answers – you’re in a much better situation when it’s time to ask for what you need.

Here’s the challenge – listen to truly hear their answer and understand their situation rather than listening to respond. This is HARD. We’re all guilting of thinking about what we’re going to say next. The real challenge here is to genuinely hear what the person is saying.

This is valuable for two reasons…

1 – Most people don’t do this these days. You will instantly be seen as someone who is thoughtful and interested.

2 – When you really understand a person’s situation, you’re in a much better position to help solve their problem.

Practice this as often as you can. You will see a difference in how your conversations go!

Use Intentional Language

If you’re not used to asking for things a lot, you probably find it a little bit intimidating and uncomfortable. Totally natural.

My best advice to you is to use intentional language. What do I mean by that?

Instead of “I’m hoping you might be able to find some time to talk to me about…”

Go with “Can we schedule 15 minutes of time to discuss…”

Another example…

“I know you’re super busy, but I was hoping you could help me with..”

Instead “Can you help me with….”

Don’t object for them! Ask for what you want and let them tell you that they’re busy, can’t help you, or whatever. Don’t create friction where it doesn’t exist!

Another word you to take out of your vocabulary when asking for something – JUST.

I was just following up…

I was just stopping by…

Can you just give me a few minutes…

Nope. Nope. Nope.

I’m following up, as promised,

I stopped by to introduce myself.

I’d like a few minutes of your time.

Be direct. Ask for what you want. Be intentional with your language. It will make a difference.

Follow up. Follow up. Follow up.

Have you ever heard that the fortune is in the follow up?! It’s true.

In most instances, when we’re asking for something – the person isn’t able to respond right away. Maybe they have to check their calendar, confirm with their boss, give it some thought, or whatever.

This means that you’re going to have to follow up to get your answer. And, you’re probably going to have to follow up more than once.

If you’re not used to it, I get that it makes you uncomfortable. You worry about being pushy or annoying. Here’s the deal – you’re busy right? Do you answer every email you get? Do you remember to answer all of your text messages? Do you need to be reminded to get back with the people that are waiting on you for an answer?

How do you feel when someone follows up with you? In most instances, aren’t you grateful for the reminder? Aren’t you embarrassed that you forgot to get back to that person?

Truth be told, that’s likely the instance with the person you’re waiting on for an answer as well. They’re busy. The person they needed to talk to to give you an answer was busy. They got pulled into a meeting. They’re on deadline for something important.

In order for you to get an answer (positive or negative) – you need to follow up.

The key is GOOD follow up.

Be intentional. Remember – be direct in your ask.

I’m not “just following up…” – I’m waiting on a specific answer you promised me.

If you’re following up for the second or third time – DO NOT apologize. You didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t be sorry for bothering someone. Instead, give them permission to say no.

For instance, “Sarah, we had a great conversation about getting this done. Your timeline was 2-3 weeks. If that’s not our timeline anymore – can you update me on our next steps? Thanks!”

“Joe – in our last conversation you asked me to follow up in 2-3 days. I am confident that I can help with your situation, but never want to be an annoyance. Can you give me some insight into our next steps and how I can support you?”

“Rachel, I’m still waiting for confirmation from you on our next steps. Is there any additional information I can provide for you to move forward? I’m happy to follow up early next week, if that works with your schedule?”

Be professional. Be clear in your ask. And make it clear that you’re going to follow up again. Another key to success in follow up – vary your touch points. Email. Phone. Text. Stop by.

Different approaches will work better with different people – so keep changing it up!

Even if you’re not directly asking for business every day, you do need buy in from those around you. Implement these 3 things and let me know how it feels in your world and your business!

The #1 Way to Close More Business

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Ask more often.

I could end there, but what fun would that be?

Whether we want to admit it or not, sales is a numbers game. And you have to understand those numbers to hit your goal (that’s an entirely different blog post!). But, the best way to increase the amount of new business you win and new clients you work with – is to ask more people to work with you.

I don’t say this to be flippant or to over simplify the challenges you’re having in your business. I say this because it’s 100% true. The more conversations we have with our dream client, the more opportunities we will have to invite them to work with us, and the more of them that will say yes.

Over and above the sheer law of averages the more you ask – the better you get at it. The more objections you hear, and then overcome, the more comfortable you will be.

Remember the first time you drove a car. My guess is that it didn’t come naturally. It was awkward and terrifying at the same time. Asking for business is the same way. The first few times you do it, it will be awkward. And probably terrifying. But, once you do it over and over again – the more comfortable you will become. You’ll be able to easily anticipate objections and overcome them without stumbling and stuttering, because you’re well practiced. Just like you’re way better at driving then you were when you were 15 (right?!).

Let’s do some math, shall we?! Let’s say that 20% of the people you do discovery calls with wind up working with you. YAY for you.

If you do 10 discovery calls – you will bring on 2 new clients. If you do 20 discovery calls – you will bring on 4 new clients. Eventually, your closing rate is likely to improve, to let’s say, 30%. Then – 10 discover calls = 3 and 20 = 6. See how that works?!

I’m not proposing that you should go to talk to anyone and everyone about doing business with you. You’re a smart, ambitious business owner and you’re crystal clear on who you work with and who you serve. You shouldn’t change that to ask for business more frequently.

The change comes in your activity. What does that look like, you ask? It’s going to be specific to each of you, but essentially it means to you have to increase your reach. If you’re currently getting leads via FB lives – you might start doing more to increase your lead numbers. Maybe you get leads via YouTube or Paid Ads, increasing the frequency and spend will up your lead numbers.

If you find your prospects via cold calling or networking – you need to make more calls or attend more events. See how that works out?!

I know exactly what your next thought is…

Ryann, if I had time to do MORE, I’d be farther ahead right now. I’d already have more business that I can handle… I’m time-strapped as it is. What do you mean do MORE?

I hear you. And I have a challenge for you.

I want to write down what you do every single work day for 2 weeks. If you check email and shop online at the Gap, write that down. If you go grab a cup of coffee and wind up playing on your phone, write that down. If you budgeted one hour of time to work on social media, but spent 2, write that down.

You get my point. What am I looking to illustrate is that we’re likely wasting time each day on 2 things.

1 – You’re wasting time on things that have nothing do with your business during the time you’ve committed to working on your business.

2 – You’re spending too much time on activities that aren’t generating revenue for you.

I challenge you to really look at your activity and decide where you can replace “activity” with income-producing activity. And yes, I understand that social media is an important part of your business – but it’s also something can be done outside of your prime “selling time.”

Also, this might be a great time to see where you can delegate. If you’re spending time on a task, say that’s design related, and you’re NOT a designer – my guess is that a designer can do that better and faster than you.

When you’re honest with yourself about how you’re spending time your time, I’m 100% confident that you can find more time to generate more sales conversations, and in turn bring on new clients, and live the life you imagined for yourself when you started your business.

If you honestly think that there is NO WAY you can squeeze in more time – please reach out to me directly. We’ll take a look at your day, your calendar, your activities, and find ways for you to squeeze more income producing activities into your day!

Can you Learn Sales Skills?

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How many times have you heard someone say (or said yourself)…
Oh, I’m not a salesperson?
Yeah, that’s just a skill set I don’t have…
Oh, sales, yeah, I’m not good at sales…

And many other iterations of sales being this mysterious skill set that only a select few are born with? Come on, be honest…

Good news, friends. Sales skills can 100% be taught! But first, let’s be realistic. Not everyone will be great at sales, even if they master the skill. Sales is as much mindset as it is skill – and if your mindset around sales is negative, it doesn’t matter how skilled you are.

Let’s unpack that first.

Sales is a MINDSET.

The definition of mindset: the established set of attitudes held by someone. If your attitude around sales is that its pushy, obnoxious, bad, negative, or whatever – then how can you possibly be good at it?!

If that is how sales makes you feel – then YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. If you’re being pushy or obnoxious, then your approach to sales is wrong. Sales, as a profession or skill, isn’t bad. Selling is helping. Seriously, selling is helping someone make a decision. Sales is about building relationships. It’s about learning more about your prospect, their unique challenges and obstacles, and then sharing your service and how you think you can help them with those challenges. From there, you help them make a decision as to whether or not you should work together.

That’s it. That’s the sales process in a paragraph. If for any reason you’re forcing someone to make a decision, not taking “no” for an answer, or trying to make your solution fit for someone that isn’t your perfect client – then you’re perpetuating the problem.

Selling is helping. Selling is building relationships and trust. Selling is being honest with yourself and your prospect about whether or not your solution will work for them.

With all of that said – you can see how sales skill can absolutely be learned!

What skills do you need to be good at sales?

In no particular order:

  • Great listening skills
  • Empathy + Caring about the results you provide
  • Relationship Building
  • Networking
  • Persistence
  • Resilience
  • Discipline

Not as scary as you thought, right? Notice the absence of the words aggressive, pushy, hunter, and the many other words you often hear describing salespeople.

Let’s break each of these skills down – and how you can go about learning them.

Great listening skills

Often times, this is the hardest skill to learn for most people. And really, the only way to be a better listener is to practice. Practice listening without preparing your response. Practice making eye contact when someone is talking. Practice using questions like “tell me more about that…” or “that’s really interesting, why do you think that is…” and then listen to the answer without thinking about how the answer helps you, but with genuine interest.

For those of us that are sale people – we are probably the WORST offenders here. We’ve been taught to paint prospects into a corner, and it’s impossible to listen well when you’re asking questions with an agenda.

Empathy + Caring about the results you provide

The ability to understand someone’s feelings is an important sales skills. People buy based on emotion. In order to really know if your solution is the right fit for the prospect, you need to understand their pain points and their emotions around it. I’m not proposing your sales calls should be a pity party or overly dramatic, but understanding how NOT having your solution makes your prospect feel, will make it much easier to show value.

Empathy is another skill that can be learned by practicing. Often times, we listen to solve a problem versus understand how the problem makes the person feel. Asking questions like …”how do you feel about that?” or “how would it feel if you were able to solve that challenge?” and then really listening to the emotion words is the key here. Once you know how they’re feeling – put yourself in their shoes. And continue your questioning, knowing what emotions you’re dealing with.

One of the biggest mistakes we make as sales people is talking about what we sell. We should be talking about the result we provide. I don’t sell sales training, I help business owners increase revenue.

When you really care about the result and can connect with it emotionally, your revenue will improve dramatically. The “how” here is about connecting with what you offer. Are you crystal clear on the results that your clients get? Are you passionate about helping them obtain those results? Once you answer YES to both of those questions, it will be obvious in the sales conversations that you’re having.

Relationship Building

People buy from people they like. Being able to connect with people from all different backgrounds and walks of life will go a long way in your sales success. How do you go about developing this skill? This one combines listening and asking great questions.

What is everyone’s favorite topic? Themselves – right?! When you ask people really great, specific questions about themselves, they will talk to you all day long! This is a great way to learn more about them and start to develop a relationship.

The most important thing to keep in mind here is that you have to be genuine. You cannot fake interest. You have to take the time to listen and be sincere!

Networking

While networking isn’t 100% required to be great at sales, it certainly makes it easier to meet people and build relationships. It also gives you the opportunity to provide value to a lot of people in a short amount of time. People that attend networking events are often well connected and could be a great resource for you.

To be good at networking you need to do 2 things. 1 – You have to find networking events that you like and will actually go to. It does you no good to attend events that you don’t enjoy or that don’t provide value to you and your business. 2 – You have to go into networking with a servant mindset. You cannot go into an event looking for your next client or prospect. You have to go into the event with the idea of meeting people and providing value to them. Can you help make a connection for them? Can you introduce them to someone in your network? Can you help solve a real problem they’ve having in their business for free?

When you provide value to your network, the sky is the limit on the value that your network will provide to you.

Persistence, Resilience, Discipline

These three things are super important to be successful in sales, but the way to “learn” them is the same.

Persistence is about continuing to work towards your goal, despite meeting some resistance. It’s about finding a new way to reach out to a prospect. It’s about coming back with a new idea when the first one didn’t work. It’s about still providing value to a prospect after they’ve said no.

Resilience is about being able to handle “no.” It doesn’t matter how good you are at sales, you will hear no. No, it’s not the right time. No, I don’t have the budget. No, I’m not interested. No, I’ve done this before and it didn’t work. And the list goes on and on. Being resilient is about sending another email, making another phone call, or attending another networking event despite the no’s!

Discipline is about dedicating time and energy to the hard parts of your business, even when you don’t want. It’s about setting goals and sticking to them. It’s about scheduling time with yourself to make prospecting calls, to add new opportunities to your “funnel,” to follow up with the people you haven’t talked to in 90 days and so on. These tasks can feel overwhelming and often mundane. Doing them anyway is discipline.

So how do you learn to be persistent, resilient, and disciplined? You decide to be each of these things. You decide that there are no excuses and that you are responsible for your own success. You decide that the “pain” of doing things you don’t want to do or that are hard or that you’ve uncomfortable with is totally worth it if it helps you reach your goals and the dreams you have for your business.

Once you decide, putting a plan into place and sticking it with, even when you don’t want to – that’s how you learn how to be persistent, resilient, and disciplined.

My guess is, sales hater, that you already have and practice many of these skills. I’m willing to bet that half of these are already in your wheelhouse. You wouldn’t be reading this if they weren’t. And, the skills that aren’t 100% “comfortable” can be worked on. Find an accountability partner. Hire a coach. Do what you need to do.

When you do, you will be unstoppable.

Top 3 Keys to Success in Sales

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Sales is an amazing career and an incredible skill set to have. However, it can feel overwhelming as to what to focus on. We all know the ultimate goal is to sell something or to get a signed contract. But, to get from point a (starting the conversation) to point z (signing a contract) there are a few key things that must be non-negotiables in your business.

#1 Discipline

There is a reason salespeople are well-paid and that business owners with a repeatable sales process are successful. It’s because sales is hard. There are few other jobs where you’re consistently rejected, ignored, or worse – hung up on…all day long. It can make it really hard to get back out there; to send another email, make another phone call, or attend another networking event.

The difference between good and great in sales is the discipline to put yourself out there over and over and over again. It’s the discipline to put time on your calendar to prospect, follow up, and start conversations with new people – and actually keep the appointment with yourself. It’s the discipline to attend the next networking event that you don’t feel like going to. It’s the discipline to ask your current, happy clients for referrals.

If you truly believe in what you’re selling – it’s imperative that you are consistent in your outreach. Letting more than one or two days go by without any new opportunities to your sales pipeline or funnel, can quickly lead to no pipeline, and in the end, no sales or signed contracts. That is why discipline is one of the most important pieces to your sales efforts and ultimately the success of your business.

I recently heard someone say, “if it doesn’t get calendared, it doesn’t get done.” And in sales, this couldn’t be more true. If you don’t have a standing, daily appointment with yourself where you work on adding new opportunities to your business – you need to start immediately. Schedule time on your calendar every single day. And keep the appointment.

If you have existing customers and clients, schedule time on your calendar to reach out to those people. Not to sell them anything. Not to ask for anything, but to see how they’re doing. Ask how what you sold them is working for them. Ask them if you can help them with anything or make an introduction. Stay in front of your customers, it will set you apart from your competition.

These two things alone, and being diligent in your efforts, will make a tremendous difference in your business. The key is the discipline to get it done and make it part of your daily routine.

#2 Prospecting

I mentioned prospecting several times when discussing discipline. I feel so strongly about prospecting, that I felt that it was the second key to success in sales and growing your business. There are a lot of different definitions of descriptions of prospecting.

When I refer to it, I mean the act of adding new people or opportunities to your sales funnel or pipeline. Prospecting can be a few different activities. It could be doing research on the people you want to reach out to. It can mean making cold call or sending emails to new people. It can mean attending a networking event and meeting new people. It can mean going to a trade show and discussing your services with new businesses.

At the end of the day, the health of your business is tied directly to your prospecting efforts. This is typically everyone’s least favorite part of the sales process, and it’s because it can be daunting. It can be time consuming. And it almost always comes with a lot of rejection and or no response at all.

This is why a lot of people give up. This is why a lot of people say they don’t like sales. This is where they blame the market, the company they work for, or their marketing and advertising efforts. But the tried and true success of a sales person comes down to their ability to have conversations with new people, and turn those conversations into sales conversations.

This is why prospecting is one of the three keys to success in your sales efforts. Better yet, it ties directly into discipline, because it takes discipline to continue to handle the rejection. The business people that show up every day and start conversations with new people, are the ones that win in the end.

#3 Relationships

How many times have you heard that people buy from people that they know, like, and trust? Do you feel like it’s overused or a bit of a cliche? Well, I hate to break it to you, but it’s true. In order to truly grow the book of business you desire, you have to build relationships that go beyond business.

This is a tough pill to swallow when you’re counting on your next sale to feed your family. Sometimes it feels like you don’t have time to build relationships and meet with someone over and over again to see if you’re a fit to work together. It can often feel like you’re wasting time and that you’re never going to get a signed agreement, despite the work you’ve put in.

Spoiler alert – you’re not going to win every piece of business and every opportunity you chase. However, you will never, ever win if you don’t start each sales opportunity by building a relationship with your prospect. Even if they don’t wind up doing business with you right now, they might be a great referral source. Or, when the time is right, they may reach out to work with you. This is why building a relationship from the beginning is so important.

The relationship building ties back into discipline and prospecting. The relationship begins with the first touch point. Whatever prompted you to reach out to that person – that’s your “common ground.” If you reached out because you follow them on LinkedIn and you love their content – lead with that in your message. If you reached out to someone you saw them running Facebook ads – let them know that’s how you saw them/found them and why you thought they fit the mold of your dream client. Coming from a place of serving, helping, and relationship building will yield exponentially more sales opportunities than coming from a place of selfishness or being self-serving in your messaging.

I’m not implying that you will be best friends with everyone you do business with. But they do have to like you and trust in order for your working relationship to begin. From there, you can move into learning more about them personally, their family, their goals and why they chose you as a partner. Set yourself apart and really strive to build relationships and begin more than a business partnership. You will be shocked at how quickly your business grows.

Putting It Into Practice

Discipline, prospecting, and relationships aren’t the only keys to success, but they should be the foundation of your sales efforts. Putting in the work every single day, starting conversations with new prospects, and starting a relationship from your first touch point will set you apart from the competition and set you up for long-term success in your sales efforts.

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