If you are like most technology sales people, when it comes down to it, you are downright scared of being direct and to the point and telling people in no uncertain terms, “Here’s what I want!”
Think about it. There’s a conspiracy that encourages people to bury their most important wants and desires. Marketing trainers use consultative selling to draw people out. Social media consultants say “Selling directly is suicide!” People hem and the haw and they even are afraid to ask you what they want to ask you the most. They feel vulnerable about being honest and up-front. It petrifies even the best of us!
Yet when it comes to being successful in business, being frank, open and clearly asking people to give you what you want is what wins the day.
John Baker, a veteran Fortune 25 management and leadership consultant and author of the new book The Asking Formula – Ask For What You Want And Get It, says the world would be a better place if marketers were totally up front and said “I’m selling windows today; are you buying?”
Baker spent several years studying the fears and trepidation people demonstrate in situations across the whole spectrum of human interactions. He concluded that people do not know the best way to get what they want. He then documented the simplest tactics and strategies that he observed in the people who were getting exactly what they were after. His discovery was absolutely earthshattering in simplicity.
Very simply, the most successful people ask for what they want. Then they give the three very best reasons that explain why it makes perfect sense to say yes.
Here’s an example.
A high tech sales professional has worked for months with his client, product demos, pricing issues, an integration plan, customization of the software, a robust training plan, etc. After all of the time, effort and energy he knows that he has overcome the financial, technological and human issues with flying colors. What he doesn’t know is if the client is ready to commit to the deal, it always seems to be something that will happen at the next meeting.
Even experienced sales people, young and old are often stumped over asking someone for the order. They stumble and bumble their way through touchy feely talk about their hobbies, the weather, their pets, family or weekend plans, anything but what they are really after.
Oh sure, all sorts of experts tell you that it’s important to build a relationship, or you have to draw out the prospect, or listen for buying clues, and any number of other items, but the crucial, bottom line issue is that they never get around to asking the big question.
Yet the quickest and best way to ask for the order is to go right up to his client and say:
“What do we need to do to get your business? Would you please let me know specifically? I want you to know what you need me to do to move things forward. You’ve seen how everything works, how well integrated it will be, that it’s going to make a real difference. Can we meet at 10 AM to close a deal?”
“It is crucial,” Bakers says, “to identify the exact most important request, and brainstorm before you decide on the best reasons. Each reason needs to be carefully selected from a larger number of options and be backed by three important facts.”
It’s about that easy, and the power of this strategy is more than a little amazing. Baker has shown that this method can be successfully used to penetrate difficult accounts, close difficult sales calls, shorten a sales cycle, protect price margins, reduce meeting time, speed up Powerpoint presentations, structure personnel reviews, sales letters, company communications with suppliers, corporate memos and even email messages.
What’s more it is proven to be quite helpful in corporate and business personal interactions with personnel, especially with supervisors and staff.
And it really helps if you put your money here your mouth is:
“Let’s implement the contract plan as follows. We’ll meet with your top three Directors by the end of the week. We’ll develop a transition plan, identify the trainers and set the training schedule, and document the planning on the company-wide calendar. Then we’ll deploy the program and watch the results. I bet this will changes the company culture in ways you’ve been hoping for and more. And it will happen in less than a month!”
“Conversations are clearer and there is less misunderstanding and I earn lots of points for being thoughtful”, he says with a gleeful smile.
Baker’s formula has three key rules:
- Only offer information that is meaningful. The rest is trivial.
- Get to the point and ask for what it is you want.
- Be quick about it.
Building a relationship is great, but over-doing it turns you into a nuisance. The biggest problem with consultative selling, for example, is that it gets in the way of the selling. It’s technique overload. It targets intimacy over decorum. It allows for procrastination. It enables salespeople to avoid rejection. After all, if you are busy probing the needs of the prospect you don’t have to risk asking for the sale.
Can you image a vendor at a ballpark consultatively selling you a hot dog: “On a 1 – 10 scale rate your level of discomfort with your hunger?” “Tell me your main objective with the hot dog?” “When you had a hot dog before, how satisfied were you with the mustard and ketchup ratio?”
Isn’t he more effective when he just yells:
“Hot dogs, hot dogs, come and get your hot dogs!”
Just give me the damn wiener!
The Asking Formula – Ask For What You Want And Get It By John Baker
List $16.95, Wonsockon Press, Publication date late fall 2011
For more information visit www.theaskingformula.com
About John Baker
John Baker has held top leadership positions in sales, client service and operations in Fortune 25 companies for more than 25 years. John is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with BA and MBA degrees. He is a member of the National Speakers Association, a noted speaker on topics of leadership, leader development, and building winning organizations. John lives in Minnesota with his family.
The Asking Formula book is based on his Asking Formula workshops and consulting practices.