In my thirty five plus years of training sales people, there’s one common reason they don’t close more sales.

And because reps don’t do this one thing, the competition is the beneficiary.

What is it?

Sales people are not asking for the decision.

Yes, they actually forget to ask… as strange as that sounds.

Reps are so passionate about the presentation, that when they finish they are quiet. Reps think the ‘ask’ is implied and the customer will miraculously say, ‘Wow, that was great, let’s go!”

Instead, the customer is quiet and the next words out the reps mouth is, “You probably want to think about it, right?”

What’s the buyer to say? Of course they say, “Right.”

And the follow-up calls sound like this, “What questions do you have? What do you think about what we talked about?”

None of this is helping to advance the sale or better yet – close the deal.

A recent sales training course graduate shared an interesting conversation. When she followed up with the prospect, they told her they didn’t think she was really interested in their business. Stunned, she asked for clarification and the prospect said she didn’t ask them to buy!

Imagine that! The client saying they WANTED to be asked to buy!

Even in this immediate gratification world and buying on the internet, when it comes to person to person selling – people want to be asked to buy!


1. ASK FOR INTEREST. The first ask is to test the temperature. Find out if the buyer is hot, medium or cold. You’re uncovering feelings and opinions… “Based on what we’ve discussed to date, how is this in alignment with achieving your initiative?” “Will this solution meet your criteria for success?” or “What else do you need to know before moving forward with this plan?”

2. ASK FOR CLARIFICATION. If the response indicates a medium or cold interest level, the second ask is for clarification. “What’s missing?”  “Provide me with some greater insight into that comparison.”  “That’s an element you don’t like, what elements do you like?”

3. ASK FOR THE DECISION. The third ask occurs when you’ve answered the medium or cold response clarification questions and cleared up any misconceptions or misunderstandings.  You’ve removed any barriers to keep them from buying or moving to the next step in the process.  You’ve asked more questions and received several affirmative answers to your questions.  This time the ask is for the final buying action.  It’s either for a signature, a credit card application completed, the next meeting, or the purchase order.

The new rule of the day…  Ask even if the prospect doesn’t seem interested at all!


Alice Kemper, sales training expert and founder of Sales Training Werks, mobilizes sales reps to crush their monthly quota.

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