Here is the opening section of the new book I’m writing. It’s still a little rough… any feedback is appreciated.

The Assumptive No

I’ve always been surprised by how many sales people do everything right, but then are seemingly afraid to ask for the sale.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in the media business on the news and content side, but it’s struck me as odd that someone would put that much work into a proposal for a potential client and then never bring it home.

Sales Manager Susan Craft calls it the Assumptive No.  You go into a sale assuming that you won’t get to yes, so you’re hesitant to ask.  As long as you aren’t hearing no, then you still have a chance.

Me?  I’d rather close the sale – positively or negatively.  If I can get the deal done, great!  If not, then I can probe to find out if there’s something else we need to do to get the business, or stop wasting both of our time and move on to something more productive.

I’m OK with no.  At least then I can move on to the next prospect.

I’ve worked with salespeople who visited with businesses for years on end and never got a piece of business.  They were always “so close” to making a sale that never occurred.  I kept thinking if they had channeled that energy in another direction they would have been more successful.

Look, I get that it’s hired to fire a client – especially when you see potential.  But as a salesperson, if you aren’t closing business, you aren’t getting paid.

Sale Trainer Kelley Robertsen described an all too common scenario for sales people.  When wrapping up a presentation, they end with asking if there are anything other questions.   “When the potential customer says, ‘Let me think about it,’” Robertsen said.  “They nod and say, “’Okay, let me know if you have any question or require any other information.’  Then they thank the other person and go on their way.”

Why don’t they ask for the sale instead, probe for objections they can overcome, or set the agenda for the next step?  They miss the critical step:  Asking for the business.  It may be that are afraid to hear no.  They may not want to seem pushy.  They may not have done the work needed to get buy-in from the client.  Maybe your pride gets in the way, or you think about all the work you’ve already put in.

Maybe they’ve assumed the answer is going to be no and the longer they can delay it, the easier life will be.  Wrong.  Get to the Yes, or Get to the No, but get somewhere.

Answering Objections That Don’t Exist

Sales manager Alex Biles put it this way:  “Salespeople too often answer objections that don’t exist.”

We can bury people in numbers and charts.  We overcomplicate things.  We get caught up in our research and share too much information.  Do we really need a 20 page slide deck?

We forget that it all comes down to just two thing.  What’s the problem that needs to be solved and what’s the solution to the problem.  As former Chief Digital Officer for Calkins Media Guy Tasaka summarized it, “People just want to sell their shit.”  Ultimately, it comes down to meeting an advertiser’s needs.

It doesn’t matter how inexpensive, or efficient, an advertising buy is if it doesn’t get the job done for the customer.

Haven’t Earned It

Sales Trainer Ryan Stewman has some ideas of his own on why people don’t ask for the sale.  Some people, he says, never ask for the business they know they haven’t done anything to earn it.

Maybe you don’t need that 20-page slide deck, but you do need to put in the effort to lead you to the close.

Referral Selling expert Joann Black say one of the most common things she sees is taking shortcuts in the process.  Maybe they haven’t qualified the prospect, set an agenda, do the research, or identify the pain point.

  • The initial meeting was unqualified.
  • The salesperson was meeting with the wrong person.
  • The salesperson wasn’t asking enough provocative, probing discovery questions.
  • The salesperson left without getting agreement on next steps or scheduling the next call.
  • Follow-up consisted of a series of emails that promoted products, didn’t address the concerns of the client, and had no call to action.
  • The salesperson was clueless as to why his emails were greeted with radio silence.

In today’s world, it’s so easy to open up a browser and take a look at a client’s website and see what they are about.  You can find so much information on line that there’s never really any reason to do a cold call anymore.

To be continued….