How To Ask For The Business

July 8th 2014

My mentor used to say to me, “Closing the business is the difference between being a good salesperson and a good conversationalist!” When you are working in the events industry you are faced with a huge amount of competition.

With the business climate as it is today, it is more important than ever that people are learning to develop their skills in closing business. So many event managers are afraid to ASK for the business. Many believe they will be seen as pushy and feel uncomfortable in asking the question. Many of us shy away from ever acknowledging the sales side of the job to begin with. This group believes that by simply “servicing” their clients, new business will take care of itself.

Although it is true that good results are a natural outcome of meeting your client’s needs and developing great rapport. Have you ever found yourself wondering why, despite all your hand written cards, lunch invitations and fantastic solutions, they end up booking through someone else?

Could it be because they asked for the sale and you didn’t?

Today, more than ever, it’s important to create a pathway so it becomes easy for people to make buying decisions. Let’s talk through a few effective ideas and tools on the subject of closing the business and asking for the sale.

Trial Close Questioning

When you finish your presentation (try to finish on some level of emotive high) and deliver a simple trial close question. This may well sound something like, “Based on everything that we have just covered, what are your thoughts?”.

The most important thing at this point is NOT TO TALK! It is important to deliver a trial close question and then just be quiet and wait for the response. If the client takes a moment to collect their thoughts, for many people their natural instinct at this point is to jump back in and continue to make their case. Simply ask the trial close question and then calmly wait for their response.

Sounds good... BUT!

Often the response of a client is going to be positive initially and then they will follow up with that dreaded word... BUT. The word “but” obviously erodes everything that precedes it. In other words, if they say “but” it really doesn’t sound good. The truth or the “concern” will follow the “but”.

The first step is to understand what your client’s objections really mean. For example, probe deeply into the excuses (concerns about cashflow, delivery time, fee, cost, quality, service competition) by asking them to tell you a little bit more about that. For example, great salespeople are very skilled at staying calm and asking a question like, “just so I fully understand, tell me a little bit more about that?”

Then... let them talk. Once you have clarity as to what the objection is really about you are ready to deal with it. In anxious times, many salespeople are too quick here to NEED the business to come to an agreement.

Pace Statement

After listening to what is really holding them back (and BEFORE answering the objection), try making a simple “Pace Statement.” This is a simple statement that recognises we aim to achieve a win-win outcome. An example of this might be: “It’s pretty important that whatever happens it’s important that you get value for the money you are spending, isn’t it?” Of course the answer is “yes” and you have taking a beat to listen to their concerns.

Another example might be: “Well, this is only going to work if it works for both of us, true?” And, once again, they will say “absolutely.”

Move to the Side

Taking your time, move the objection to the side to determine if there is anything else stopping them making a favourable decision. For example, “Just moving the cost to the side for a moment, is there anything else that would stop you making this decision?”

If there is nothing else, simply confirm this by saying, “Great. Just so I’m clear, hypothetically, if we are able to come to an agreement on cost, we can move forward?”

If there is something else, hopefully this will come out at this time. For example, if you move cost to the side, you may discover that there is something else that is holding this transaction back. Move it to the side, as well, to determine if there are other things. If there are more than three things, get out your notebook and write them all down and work through them one by one.

Always make sure you are actually talking with the decision maker in going through this process. To determine whether that is the case, a great question is: “Who, apart from and including yourself, is involved in making this final decision?”

Ask the Question

Once you have worked through everything and anything that you moved to the side, ask the question for the business. “We’ve worked through this process, are you happy to put my firm to work?” or “I feel really good about this...when could we get started?” Once again, do not say anything at this point. No matter how long it takes, wait for them to speak first.

It is more important than ever to continually work on your technique in closing business in more challenging times. Customers have a terrific excuse to hide behind at the moment and it’s your job as the person pitching to organise their event to make sure you probe deeply enough to move their objections aside, deal with them and then always ASK what needs to be done to close the business.

To go back to the original comment by my mentor, THIS is the difference between a great conversationalist and a great sales person.

For further information on Chris Helder or to enquire about making a booking for your next conference or event please contact the friendly ODE team

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How To Ask For The Business
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