I remember hearing someone say once ‘Bernadette, the answer is always no, unless you ask’ and I have always remembered that.
Whether I am lost in the car and can’t get the directions right, I will stop and ask someone for help, whereas my husband would rather keep driving until he finds the right road – and dare I say, wastes time and gets frustrated in the meantime and it has nothing to do with women not being able to read road maps!
If I am seated at a restaurant that is near the door and it’s a wet and windy night, I will ask to move whereas a friend won’t want to be an inconvenienced, won’t ask and is prepared to be miserable all night.
If I feel that something is wrong in a conversation, I will ask what the matter is or call the elephant in the room, whereas another salesperson won’t want to put someone on the spot and so puts incorrect meanings onto comments and ends up with pipeline bloat.
Most of us feel uncomfortable when we ask someone for a favor or for help.
The story of Amanda Palmer, a living statue whose job was to sell her art and connect with people by standing on a milk crate, dressed as a bride, handing daisies to those passer-by’s who tipped money into her hat struck a chord with me.
Some of us may see these street artists and immediately jump to the conclusion that they are beggars, or bludgers or lazy (get a real job) as they stand in the popular tourist spots attracting passer- bys.
But whose story is that – theirs or yours? And if it is your perception, then how does that belief serve you when it is your turn to sell your product or service.
You see, their story is that they are allowing people to choose to buy their art. And we, as salespeople are also artists. We are not managers, we are not all entrepreneurs risking our capital for the cause, we are wanting people to buy what we believe will make a difference in their worlds.
And the street artist’s story is that they are selling connection with the people whose eyes they look into as they stand statue like still. They’re selling trust as they reach out and they are also selling themselves on vulnerability by placing themselves in a position of potential rejection.
And isn’t that the same as us? Are we not asking the question of our buyers that they tip money into our hat? That we are artists selling a product, a service or an idea that will make a difference in the world of our buyers? That our buyers also buy our connection, our trust and our vulnerability as we ask them to buy increased profitability, improved productivity and proximity?
I read an article by Jeb Blount, from Sales Gravy, this afternoon on ‘The ONLY Closing Technique that Really Works’ and I, too, can share this biggest secret with you on how the top salespeople ask for the order, even though I haven’t sworn on Jeffrey Gitomer’s Bible 🙂 and I am in total agreement with Jeb.
The biggest secret to winning business is to ask for the business and the biggest choke-hold to asking, running in parallel, is fear.
Let me share a ‘close’ with you that will work EVERY SINGLE TIME and you won’t have to swear on anything for me to share it with you – ‘How can I help you?’
Simple. Straightforward. Sincere.
And it doesn’t just start and stop with a close for business. I had a coffee this morning with a corporate sales manager turned start up entrepreneur and we aligned a lack of collaboration and marketing ideas, products and services to fear, as well.
Before coffee, I was on a Google Hangout – my first, so bring on the uncertainty and fear there, folks – and the interviewer Jenny Munn from Business Marketing Association, Atlanta GA, asked me why people don’t publish their content to position themselves as experts when the platforms are right there, free and convenient. My answer was, ‘the same as what prevents them asking for the next logical step in a sale – fear!’
‘The Art of the Ask’ is not about closing or trapping or conning your buyer
Asking for the business is about learning to say ‘no’ and learning to say ‘yes’ and knowing the magic lies somewhere in between, but only after you are ready to say ‘Bring It On’ to uncertainty when your buyer asks you to go a little deeper with your request.
So, it’s over to you now…
And so ask all of us!!
Be Bold, Brave and Brilliant
Bernadette McClelland is CEO of 3 Red Folders – a modern day saleswoman and keynote speaker on business growth, personal leadership and sales performance.
BIO: Business environments wanting to increase their revenue and profits, and differentiate themselves in a competitive market, ask for Bernadette McClelland because of her thought leadership on sales performance, her ideas on thinking beyond resilience and her fresh perspectives surrounding personal leadership skills — all designed to master the outcomes that matter.
Bernadette has proudly coached Harvard MBA students on their sales enablement curriculum, been the Master Asia Pacific coach for Anthony Robbins across twelve countries, authored five books on leadership and sales transformation, won a coveted Telstra award for Business Excellence, and continually shares her ideas around behaviour, the brain and business growth on stages in the UK, Europe, Thailand, India, NZ, Australia and North America.
Believing that sales performance is a leadership issue, you will also find her heading Melbourne’s human potential based sales performance consultancy, 3 Red Folders, as she navigates lead generation, message to market and digs deep into sales process activities with her clients in the mid-tier sector as well as founding ‘Women Who Sell’, an initiative designed to bring more women up to speed in their sales success.
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