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.
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!