Hero image of Brian McCauley, ProSales columnist

How many times have you made a sales call and not asked for some sort of action from the customer at the conclusion of the call? Most of us would probably admit to being guilty of this on occasion. In reality, we may do this more than we’d like to admit. That’s why salespeople need to ask the customer for some sort of action at the conclusion of nearly every sales call.

I’ve written in a previous column that every sales call needs to have a sales objective, and I define a sales objective as the action we want the customer to take as a result of the call. Examples of sales objectives are booking a second appointment, asking for a referral, providing a bid, getting an order, etc. There are two main benefits to setting objectives prior to sales calls. You will know when a sales call has reached its natural conclusion and it saves time for you and the customer. How you ask for the sale, or what you ask, is in direct relation to your sales objective.

In my experience, salespeople don’t have an problem asking for something when money is not a factor, such as asking for another meeting, or an opportunity to bid a house package. It is more of an issue when asking for a sale. How many times have you given a potential customer a quote and asked, “How does this look?” They respond, “Let me check it out and I’ll let you know.” You then respond,, “Let me know if you want to move forward.” Although that might feel like asking for the sale, it is most definitely not. Salespeople don’t want to appear pushy, manipulative or, desperate for a sale, so they attempt to ease into it and soften their request.

Instead of this softer approach, be more direct. When delivering a quote, ask “Would you like to place this order?” Or perhaps, “Would you like to move forward with this?” This shows the customer that you are confident in your product, and your company’s ability to service the account. It also helps persuade the customer to move forward, and not drag his feet in making a decision. If the response is “No,” then you have the opportunity to ask some questions to figure out where you got off track and attempt to get things headed in the right direction. If their response is some form of “Not now,” you have the opportunity to set the next expectation, meaning you will be able to ask when the prospect or customer will be ready to make a decision and follow up in a much more direct manner.

If you really believe that your products and service platform are superior to what your competitors offer and that prospects are truly better off buying from you, then you owe it to them to ask for their business. You are actually doing them a disservice by not asking for the order. Sales will very rarely fall into your lap, so ask for the order in a direct, confident manner. You’ll never make a sale that you don’t ask for. Heck, you might find that more people will say “Yes” when you ask, giving them better solutions for their business and putting more money in your pocket.