A top closer knows that any prospect who isn’t willing to make a commitment of either time, or of taking a specific action or agreeing to some other part of a sales process (sitting through a demo, etc.) means that they are dealing with a shaky prospect. And think about it: if a prospect isn’t willing to commit to something now, what do you think your chances are of getting them to sit through a pitch and actually take action with you later?
What kind of a commitment do you get from your prospect at the end of your prospecting call? If you’re like most sales reps, the answer is, ah, none. Or, it’s an undefined, “Well, I’ll follow up with you next week.”
If this sounds familiar – or if you’re a manager and it sounds like your whole team! – then you’re not alone. You see, many sales reps haven’t been taught how to properly qualify prospects and they especially haven’t been taught how to ask for and get a commitment at the end of the first call. Most sales reps are just happy they were allowed to “get information out” to someone and don’t feel they want to push it or ruin it by asking for and getting clarity and commitment about what’s going to happen before the next call.
And that’s where Top 20% producers differ. You see, a top closer knows that any prospect who isn’t willing to make a commitment of either time, or of taking a specific action or agreeing to some other part of a sales process (sitting through a demo, etc.) means that they are dealing with a shaky prospect. And think about it: if a prospect isn’t willing to commit to something now, what do you think your chances are of getting them to sit through a pitch and actually take action with you later?
So here are five kinds of commitments you can ask for (along with scripting) that will help you further qualify your prospect and get the kind of cooperation and buy in in the beginning of the sales process:
1) A commitment of time for the next call. Crucially important as we all know how busy people are and how prospects can literally disappear never to be heard from again. I always end my call with:
“Because you’re probably as busy as I am, it’s best if we get on a calendar to make sure we can discuss this next week. I’ve got my calendar open in front of me, are you looking at yours?”
Then simply set a firm date and time to get back with them. Always send an email follow up confirming the time and asking them to email you if they have to change the appointment.
2) A commitment of what they are going to do before the next call. Give yourself some options here. Can you get your prospect to look at a particular part of your proposal? Is there a section on your website they can commit to reading? Can they commit to running this by their boss or marketing department before your next call? Think about your selling situation and come up with the most appropriate commitment of action and then say:
“OK, so let me make sure I have this right. Before our call next Tuesday you’ll have been able to spend some time with your marketing manager and get his buy in before our demo next week, right?”
3) A commitment of what you’re going to do (always make sure you get one of the two commitments above as well). Think about your product or service and your prospect’s particular situation. Perhaps you can check on the adaptability of your products or on the licensing or fit within their department. I’m sure you can come up with something. Try:
“OK ________, here’s what I’ll do in the meantime. I’ll contact our delivery department and make sure we can ship to all of your locations for delivery at the same time. This will make installation easy as we can walk all your managers through this at the same time. That will help a lot, won’t it?”
4) A commitment of what the next step is if they like it (again, make sure you get one of the first two commitments above as well). This is so important on two counts:
A. By agreeing in advance what the next step is if they like it, you are actually trial closing on the first call. Your prospect’s reaction here will be important – if they won’t commit at all, that’s a red flag. You can choose to either keep qualifying or get an idea of what kind of objections you’re going to get when you do call back.
B. If they tell you what the next step is, you can prepare for that and for the closes you’ll need to use once you get back to them.
This is an important step. Use this scripting here:
“_________, it sounds like this will be a great fit for you. Let me ask you, after you get through the demo, if you find this will work for you, what is the next step for you to get started with it?”
5) The best commitment of all: Asking for the deal if the prospect likes your material. I know, this takes real guts, but if you’ve done the proper job of qualifying up front, then this is actually the natural progression of your sales process. In fact, this is how I became a Top 20% in 90 days. I would always say (and still do, by the way):
“Great _______, well I think I’ve covered everything. By the way, do you have any initial questions?” (Now bare in mind that I covered every detail of my proposal and qualified for interest, compatibility and budget up front).
“OK, then let me ask you a question: If after you get the material I’m sending you see it’s exactly what we just spoke about, and you can see this (making you money, working in your environment, meeting your needs – whatever is appropriate for your sale), what size participation do you see yourself starting with?”
The answer you get here will almost always be the same one you’re going to get after you get back to them and go through your presentation, so why not just get it now?
So there you have it – a variety of ways of getting a commitment at the end of your prospecting call. Work with these approaches and adapt them to your selling situation. I guarantee you that the better you get at asking for and getting a commitment, the more sales you’ll close.
About the author
Mike Brooks is the founder of Mr. Inside Sales, a North Carolina based inside…