Asking for a sale can be a lot like asking someone out on a date. You can put a lot of time and effort in beforehand without ever knowing if it’s going to pay off.
That can work out fine (sometimes) in the dating world, but it’s a really, really frustrating way to ask for a sale.
Everyone you meet has a problem. Some of those problems you’re able to solve. By quickly and clearly communicating that fact, you can avoid wasting time and get to the ask.
So… What’s Your Problem?
Building a scaffolding to the ask by focusing on the problem isn’t always easy. If you enter a conversation with a referral, it’s a little tricky. If you’re going into a conversation cold, it can feel impossible. If you don’t build towards your ask in the right way, it’s awkward and abrasive for everyone involved.
Here’s the key – focus on learning about the other person, not on proving yourself to them.
Okay. You’re at a networking mixer. A complete stranger comes up and shakes your hand. What do you do?
Do you start rambling about who you are or what you do? No. That doesn’t reveal the problem. Instead, ask questions. Get to know the person. Here are a few to get you started:
- What’s a day like in your life?
- How long have you been in business?
- What’s your area of expertise?
- What kind of growth are you getting?
- What kind of challenges are you facing right now?
- What do you need to get to the next level?
Any specific question may or may not fit into the flow of the conversation. Don’t feel like you need to go through a checklist. Instead, focus on being genuinely interested in getting to know more about that person.
Let them do most of the talking. Make notes of what they’re saying. Where are they at now? What problems are they facing? Can you fix those problems? Focus on what’s wrong to build towards how you can make it right.
The Next Step In Asking For The Sale
So the person you’re talking to has a problem. You think it’s something you can fix. How do you get from establishing a problem to asking for the sale?
You guessed it – more questions.
At this point you want to gather a little more information while still getting to the ask quickly. Find out a little more about how they’re currently structured and if they may be receptive to working with you. For example:
- Who’s doing your marketing right now?
- Would you consider working with an outside vendor?
- What does the perfect marketing partner look like to you?
- I’d love to follow up with you and give you a short presentation of our capabilities if you think this is a relationship that might be of benefit to your company. Do you have a card so I can follow up?
The Bottom Line
By establishing the problem and focusing on the potential client instead of yourself you build a scaffolding that naturally lifts you to asking for the sale. It doesn’t feel awkward. It doesn’t feel forced. It doesn’t seem to come out of nowhere. Instead, it highlights you as the solution to a problem the other person knows they have.
Once you’ve established the problem, the other person will be looking for a solution. And if you’re that solution, it will be that much easier to get the sale.