First Rule of Sales: Always Ask for the Order

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.”

T.J. Tedesco is a sales growth, business strategy, marketing and PR consultant operating at the intersection of clear vision, compelling content and effective outreach practices. For nearly two decades, T.J. has been an independent consultant and sales growth team leader. Previously, he sold commercial printing, graphic arts machinery and supplies, and finishing and bindery services. T.J. helps North American companies with content development, Web and print design leadership, nurture marketing programs, sales coaching, sales team alignment and business strategy. Since 1996, T.J. has worked with more than 100 clients on retainer, 80 percent in the graphic arts industry. T.J. is author of "Win Top-of-Mind Positioning," "Playbook for Selling Success in the Graphic Arts Industry," "Fire! How Marketing Got Hot," "Direct Mail Pal" and four more books published by PIA. He can be reached at (301) 404-2244 or
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  • Bill

    I remember many years ago when I was a kid working at a gas station part time selling tires and was trained by a major tire company to always close the sales pitch by asking "Can we put a set on your car today?". It worked probably at least 90 percent of the time.