Some of the biggest regrets people have are not when they stepped out and failed but when they failed to step out. When we don’t take a chance we’re often haunted by what might have been and ask ourselves, “What if…?”
Studies show people who ask for favors often underestimate the number of people who would be willing to help. In fact, they underestimate it by a lot! In one study, when asked how may strangers they’d have to ask to walk them a few blocks to a location they’ve been unable to find on a college campus, most people assumed they’d have to ask seven or more strangers before one person would take the time necessary to help. However, when they actually asked for help, the number of people they had to approach was only two or three before they got the help they needed. If you knew people would most likely respond positively to you twice as often as you thought they would, you’d probably have a lot more confidence to ask.
Having been a consumer all my life and teaching sales for the past 20 years, I can tell you most salespeople fail to ask for the sale. They might fear being seen as too pushy or believe the prospective customer can sort out all the product features, weigh the benefits against the cost, and make a decision that’s in their best interest.
But here’s the problem – as consumers, when we’re making purchases sometimes we’re overwhelmed by all the choices and price points. And the more money we’re about to spend the scarier it can be because we want to make sure we make the best choice. We want to avoid “buyer’s remorse.” A salesperson can alleviate much of that anxiety throughout the sales process but in the end the salesperson still needs to ask for the sale.
One way to lessen the fear and increase the odds of hearing “Yes” is to learn up front exactly what the customer is looking for. If the salesperson can meet the customer’s requirements, then simply asking the following should work: “If we can get you A, B and C at a fair price, would you seriously consider buying from us?” Most people will agree to that; then it’s up to the salesperson to show their product or service has all the required features. This is known as “the up-front close” in sales circles.
The reason this approach can be so effective is because the principle of consistency comes into play. This principle of influence tells us people generally live up to their word because they feel a little bad about themselves when they don’t. If someone says they’ll strongly consider you, your company or your product/service, then odds are they will if you can deliver what you said you would.
Once the salesperson has asked the right questions up front and then clearly shows how their offering meets the requirements it becomes much easier and more comfortable to take the next step and ask for the sale. It’s like dating. Wasn’t it easier to ask for a date when you knew beforehand the other person was interested in you?
Here’s my persuasion advice. You don’t have to live with the regret of what might have been. Remember, people are more likely to say “Yes” than you probably think. If you use the up-front close the odds that a customer will say “Yes” are significantly better. So remember – Don’t ask, don’t sell.