I read an article recently that slammed sales people for using the “hard sell” tactic of asking for a decision at the end of a presentation.
To paraphrase David Sandler, don’t make presentations without a prior commitment to make a “no” or “yes” at the end of the presentation.
Two valuables a sales person possesses are information and time. Making presentations without a commitment by a prospect to make a choice between “no” and “yes” at the end is a waste of both.
Now, there are two instances when asking for a decision at the end of a presentation is a hard sell tactic:
1.The prospect didn’t agree up front to make a decision – Without an agreement beforehand to make a clear decision at the end of the presentation, a sales person essentially ambushes their prospect. This then triggers the prospect’s “fight or flight” response; neither of which will result in a closed sale.
2.The sales person’s presentation doesn’t speak to the prospect’s reasons for buying (pain) – This seems obvious, but too many sales presentations fall into “here’s what we can do for you,” instead of, “here’s how we’ll solve your specific issues.”
Both instances come directly from the traditional sales playbook of “qualify” (find someone who will listen to you), “present” (let me tell you about our features-and-benefits), and “close” (hope that your prospect chooses you instead of your competitors who made the same presentation) and plays right into a prospect’s system for buying, which largely involves gathering the most information while making the fewest commitments.
To put your prospect at ease and get a decision each time you present, follow these three steps:
1.Give your prospect an out first – Prospects expect sales people to ask for a “yes.” Giving your prospect the option to say “no” enhances your credibility and lowers your prospect’s defenses.
2.Observe your prospect’s physiology and tone – Prospects aren’t used to making commitments to sales people. If you see your prospect tense up, pull away, waver their voice or become quieter when you ask them if they would be okay making a decision at the end of your presentation, you must address their discomfort right away or you can expect to get a “no” decision at the end of your presentation.
3.Have your prospect guide the presentation – Instead of assuming which issue is most important to your prospect ask them to drive your presentation, which gets them more emotionally involved and more likely to buy.
Stop wasting your time and information and close more sales. If you ask up front, it isn’t a hard sell.