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I was in a computer store the other looking at buying a MP3 player. Expecting the worse, I was hoping to be able to decipher the jargon I expected would be coming my way via the sales person and still be able to make an educated decision at the end of it all. I was pleasantly surprised when a nice young guy that obviously knew his stuff asked me a series of questions that focused on me and how I saw my self using an MP3 player. We managed to narrow the selection down to one that we thought would work best for me as well as a few accessories that he identified would be helpful.

He was a well informed, presentable and a nice guy. He did a great job - a great job that is until the part of the sale where all the hard work pays off – when the customer actually buys something. He wandered aimlessly, joked and generally kept talking about how great the product was or how much I was going to enjoy it until I was forced to put a stop to it. I had to get going so I said "I'll take it". (If I waited for a sales person to ask me to buy I'd never buy anything).

As he was ringing in the sale he realized he'd better say something about the accessories so he said, "So, I guess you don't want the accessories do you?" "No" I said and he said "OK". I was 50/50 on whether I really needed the accessories or not. I could have gone either way but his question actually helped me make up my mind.

I thought to myself, what a shame. Here's a guy who did a fantastic job of getting me to talk about why I would need those accessories and then he blew it by asking a question that prompted me for a no. Imagine if he had asked "Which of the accessories were you going to take as well?" I would have bought. Why? Because I had already discussed with him that they were a good idea. A good idea, not a great idea. There's a difference. The MP3 player was a great idea! I wanted it and once I found the one I wanted I wasn't going to not get it just because someone didn't ask me to buy it. The extra money for accessories I didn't plan on getting is a different matter. When a product is a pretty good fit for the customer sometimes they need help to make the final decision. That help can be a simple question that asks them if they'd like to take it or not.

I travel a quite a bit and when eating in a restaurant I typically have a little talk with myself when it comes time to decide whether or not to order dessert. I feel like a sweet most times but I also know I probably don't need the extra calories. The waiter can make my decision for me just by the question they ask. "What can I get you for dessert?" Usually gets an order whereas "Did you want dessert?" usually gets a no.

Ask a Better Question Get a Better Answer

So what are your questions you ask to get a customer to make a decision? Do you have them? Are they practiced and rehearsed or do they just "come to you"? Have you thought out the decision sequence of the sale? Don't leave it to chance. It's a natural and logical conclusion to the hard work you have done up until this point. Unfortunately, if you do not ask for the sale you leave the customer in an awkward position. Awkward because you can only talk about the product for so long and then something has to happen. That something is either they buy or they move on. If the sales person isn't going to end the sales process by asking for the sale most customers are very adept at wrapping it up. They love to say "let me think about it" or "I'll shop around a bit more".

Here's an easy way to get comfortable asking for the sale:

Confirmation Questions

After you present a product to a customer ask them whether they think what you have shown them will help or not. For example, after presenting internet banking you could ask, "Does that sound like that would be an easier way to pay your bills?" Confirmation questions are a great technique for anyone that is at all a bit nervous about asking for a sale because they give you a good indication of what the customer's answer will be should you decide to ask them to buy.

Have Confidence in What You Have Done

If they respond that it would be easier for them then don't make them wait! Ask them to buy it. At this point you can afford to be a little assumptive. "Why don't I go ahead and set that up for you then?" would be a nice way to ask for a decision.

Having a customer buy is the objective of any sales process. You can do a super job and still miss out on the sale if you don't ask for it. Have a plan, know what you're going to say and practice saying it. Soon it will be as natural as saying hi.

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Copyright © 2008 by Fusion Performance Group Inc.
Copyright © 2012 by Fusion Performance Group Inc. If you share this, print it out, or reproduce it in any way, please retain this copyright statement.