You won’t win business unless you know how to ask for commitment from your customers or clients.
There is sometimes a perception that gaining commitment is about doing things to prospects – persuading, convincing, being gung ho, handing objections, moving things forward and ‘closing’ the deal. It’s a perception based on the very worst example of how to sell and is based on the misplaced belief that anyone involved ‘selling’ should remember their ABC ”Always Be Closing“.
The ABC approach is uncomfortable for buyer and seller; it puts both under pressure and is most definitely not client centric.
The client controls the timing
Unless you plan to brow beat a prospective client or customer into taking action now it is vital to acknowledge (if you want a client for life) that they control the timing of when they make a commitment.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m all for taking action to develop an opportunity, but using pressure to push someone into taking action now at best is likely to result in a single transaction and often leads to early buyer’s remorse. Given that customer resistance to traditional sales methods is so well documented in this blog and elsewhere, how do you gain commitment to move a relationship forward to the point where a prospect becomes a client?
Lead with a light touch and earn the right to ask for commitment.
Light touch leadership
The best leaders inspire others to take action. The energy to take action, the motivation, comes from the team or from individuals. It is no different when you want to move forward towards gaining a commitment from a customer or client. The energy, the motivation must come from them.
Light touch leadership allows circumstances that get you closer to a commitment to gradually unfold. It doesn’t involve pressure of any kind, just a well structured meeting and application of key skills and behaviours. As the meeting leader your objective is to achieve an outcome that is right for the client and for you.
The diagram below outlines how to structure a typical one hour meeting that will allow you to lead and earn the right to ask for a commitment.
Earn the right to ask for a commitment
When you demonstrate genuine interest and show that you fully understand the clients’ world, you build trust. When a prospect trusts you they will share insightful information with you that will allow you to evaluate how you can help them and make a judgement about what value you can add. Throughout the ‘explain’ part of the meeting you should be adding real value – free advice, explaining how you helped a client in a similar situation, something you could offer to send after the meeting.
When the potential client or customer trusts you and recognises you have added real value – then you have earned the right to ask for a commitment.
And ask you must – there is nothing worse than raising the expectations of a potential client, motivating them and then leaving them wondering why they invested time in meeting with you. Asking for a commitment is part of your leadership role in the meeting. The key is to ask for a commitment that is appropriate to the customers’ circumstances and to how you or your solution can help them.
Get the words right
When you have decided on what you consider to be the best way forward – make a suggestion. Suggest a follow up meeting, suggest a demonstration, suggest a trial, suggest a delivery date. Whatever commitment you suggest it must involve the prospect in taking action so practice the words you use with colleagues. Be familiar and comfortable with suggesting a way forward and you will win more business without ever ‘closing’.
If you would like help with asking for commitment or would like to know more about winning more business with Principled Selling, you can contact David Tovey here.
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