Ask For The Sale!! Again

This post originally appeared November 8, 2007.  Obviously it’s not really two weeks until Thanksgiving, but the principal still applies.  Most of the time, you won’t get the sale until you ask for it.  Enjoy.

Two weeks from today is Thanksgiving, the traditional beginning of the Christmas selling season.  Of course, every customer who walks through your door any time is like gold, but for the next few weeks, each one is even more golden.  If you’re ever going to "Mine Your Own Business", now it the time!

Let’s start today with a basic truth.  Unless you’re either (a) giving away free food, or (b) you have the only public restroom within a few miles, no one comes into your store "just looking."  This is especially true during the holidays.  Nowadays, people do their "looking" on the Internet.  They study specs, features, and yes, even prices before they ever leave home.  People are too busy to wander from store to store "just looking".

Another basic truth is that selling is a skill.  It’s something you can learn.  It’s not hard, but is work.  It’s very unusual to find a "natural-born" sales person.  If you find one (or if you are one) consider yourself extremely lucky. 

Here’s a little secret.  There are hundreds of experts in the field of sales training and every one of them has books and tapes and CDs (or maybe a blog).  From Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy, and Zig Ziglar, all the way back to Earl Nightingale and Napoleon Hill, they all have something to say.  But if you line them up side-by-side, they’re all saying the same thing, each in their own way.  Selling is an art and a science.  The science part is simple.  You do A, then B, then C and a sale happens.  It’s like mixing the right amounts of hydrogen and oxygen and getting water.  How you do A, B, & C is the art.

So, if you were to take one thing away from all these selling stars, one thing that would guarantee that you get the most from every customer contact, what would it be?

It’s simple, really.  ASK FOR THE ORDER!!  It’s amazing how often people walk away from a purchase because no one asked them to buy.  Each one of us has a certain number of "no’s" we just have to get out of our system before we can say "yes".  It may be just one.  It may be two, or three, or more.  But most sales people stop after just one or two at the most. Some don’t ask for the order at all. And the customer walks away empty-handed.  How many more sales would be made if the sales person closed just one more time?

Remember, not all the time, but most of the time, the customer who says "I’ll be back" won’t.  If you don’t get the sale while they’re in your store, chances are good that they won’t be back.  Not to be repetitive but ASK THEM TO BUY!!  You’re not going to pick up tomorrow’s paper and see a headline "Retailer Shot and Killed for Asking Closing Question".  It won’t happen.  ASK FOR THE MONEY!!  No, let’s rephrase that, ASK FOR YOUR MONEY!!  It is your money, they just haven’t given it to you yet.

From now until the end of the year people will be in a buying mood.  They don’t have time for recreational shopping.  They’re in your store for a reason.  Find out why they’re there, give them your best demo, then ASK THEM "WILL THAT BE CASH OR CHARGE?"

Keep asking until they buy.  Once they say "yes" don’t stop there.  You know those dogs that sit in the back window of the car, the ones who nod their heads when the car starts and stops?  Once they start nodding, they keep doing it for a while.  People are like those dogs.  Once they nod "yes" their tendency is to keep nodding.

Once the customer says "yes", show them something else.  Show them accessories.  Show them add-ons.  Show them related products.  Ask them if they’d like a second widget to give someone else for a gift.  CLOSE THE SALE!!  Keep asking until they run out of money or you run out of merchandise.

You may have noticed that in this post we used the phrase "ASK FOR THE SALE!!" or something similar a very redundant eight times.  You may have also noticed that each time it was phrased a little differently, just as your closing attempts should each be phrased a little differently.  It may be bad writing, but it’s good selling.

The point is this, your time and your customers’ time is valuable, especially at this time of year.  Do your customer a favor by letting them cross at least one item off their shopping list before they leave your store.  You’ll both be glad that you did.

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