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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.
 

First Rule of Sales: Always Ask for the Order

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Last week, FEI sales leader Zoot educated a young salesperson on how voice-mail messages can lead to sales opportunities. This week, Zoot gives Ganymede a valuable lesson on the best phrase he knows for closing a sale. Remember, fire = print.

Zoot walked into Ganymede’s office to find him slumped in his chair. “What’s wrong?” Zoot asked.

“Another meeting with Hercules of Hercules Chariots, and still no close,” Ganymede groaned. “I don’t get it. He knows our price and knows we’re a great solution for what he needs. But I just can’t get him to sign on the dotted line.”

Zoot rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Have you tried asking for the order?”

Ganymede sat up. “Well, no. That would be...impolite. Wouldn’t it?”

“If you think FEI’s solutions are the best for Hercules, it’s impolite not to ask for the order,” Zoot said. “No matter how good a listener you are, no matter how well you ask questions and how persistently you pursue the sale, if you don’t ask for the order, you probably won’t get it.”

“I make a lot of appointments and a lot of presentations, but my closing ratio just isn’t good,” Ganymede remarked. “Could it be because I don’t ask for the order?”

“It’s very likely,” Zoot said. “Great conversations don’t sell anything by themselves. If prospects have even the slightest reservation about trying out FEI, they won’t volunteer business, no matter how strong the personal chemistry is between them and you.”

Ganymede tugged at his toga nervously. “I hear what you’re saying, but sometimes I’m unsure in my ability to ask for the order.”

“Ask Athena or another salesperson to accompany you on a sales call,” Zoot suggested. “Ask them to critique your selling skills, specifically your ability to ask for the order. Sometimes a third-party can be invaluable in helping you improve your sales skills. Or, I can ride along with you for a day.”

“You?” Ganymede asked. “I’ll feel so much pressure to perform well, I’ll have to ask for the order every time no matter what.”

“Exactly,” Zoot said. “It may be difficult for you, but you’ll be helping yourself immensely.”

“Can non-salespeople ask for the order too?” Ganymede asked thoughtfully.

“Of course,” Zoot said. “Anyone at FEI with customer contact—customer service reps, estimators, production managers, receptionists—can ask for the order if the opportunity presents itself. If one of these people has a prospect or customer on the line and they happen to be discussing a potential job, all they have to say is, ‘Would you like us to get started on this project today?’”

“I could see non-salespeople being uncomfortable making a ‘sales move’ such as asking for the order,” Ganymede commented.

“They’ll feel better about it once they see our sales numbers soar,” Zoot said with a grin.

Today’s FIRE! Point
No matter how good a listener you are, no matter how well you ask questions and how persistently you pursue the sale, if you don’t ask for the order, you probably won’t get it. “Great conversations” don’t sell anything by themselves. If prospects have even the slightest reservation about trying out your printing company, they won’t volunteer business, no matter how strong the personal chemistry is between them and you.

If you unsure about your ability to ask for the order, ask another salesperson to accompany you on a sales call. Ask them to critique your selling skills, specifically your ability to ask for the order. Sometimes a third-party can be invaluable for helping you improve your sales skills.

FIRE! in Action: Everybody Needs to be Asked for the Order
One of Henry Ford’s friends was an insurance salesman. He tried to win a piece of Ford’s sizeable insurance business for a long time only to learn one day that his friend had awarded the business to someone else. When the friend asked why, Ford responded “You never asked.”

Next week: Zoot educates Ganymede on the art of listening.

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