Success Strategies - January/February - 2017

How Many Times Should You Ask Someone to Buy?

How many times do you need to ask a prospect to authorize you to rebuild their transmission? One? Three? Six?

You’ve no doubt heard that it takes a number of no answers to a sales presentation in order to reach a yes. That’s been proven true many times over many years. Recent estimates are six asks before you get a yes. But what isn’t understood about this is that these aren’t the same no answers, nor should you be asking the same confirm-the-sale (closing) questions.

Traditional sales training teaches people to:

  • Determine the Need
  • Describe the Solution
  • Ask for the Order
  • Overcome the Objections
  • Close the Sale

The old advice was ABC: Always Be Closing. Or, simply, “Close, Close, Close!” We were told, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” So sales people would do as they were told, and, in the process, alienated their prospects and increased interpersonal tension.

There’s a better way and it’s based on:

  • Telling the Truth
  • Doing what’s Right for the customer
  • Making a Profit on each job
  • Realizing where you are in the Decision Process

Note that I didn’t say the “sales” process. You see, as long as you focus on making a sale, your energy will be drawn toward the old model. The goal shouldn’t be making a sale. Yes, I really said that.

The goal should be helping the customer get his or her car reliably back on the road and thereby earning a profit.

The profit is the fruit. Helping the customer is the plant. Plants can produce lots of fruit if cared for properly. If your goal is always to help the customer, sales will follow and you’ll find that you’ll experience less interpersonal tension and you’ll feel better about yourself and what you’re doing.


When a prospect says no, you should analyze just what they’re saying no to. For example, are they saying, “No I don’t trust you,” or “No I can’t afford this,” or “No I don’t have the authority to do that,” or what? There are stages in the decision process you must complete; whichever one you skip will be the one that produces the next no.

  1. No, I’m not interested in talking with you about this.
  2. No, I don’t trust you (your technology, your company, etc.)
  3. No, I’m not the person who should make this decision.
  4. No, you don’t understand my needs accurately.
  5. No, I don’t see how the value of this is greater than the price.
  6. No, I don’t feel the need to make this decision right away.

Here’s a bonus no: “No, I don’t believe that you care about my needs.”

If you answer no number one with a further description of your skill and knowledge, you’ll never make the sale. Likewise with all of the others. Your response must fit the customer’s concern. If they aren’t interested yet, then you need to build a case for why they should be and how they’ll benefit from talking with you about their needs.

When they don’t trust you or your company or your technology, your answer needs to be in the form of proof, not mere reassurance. Show them how they can rely on your product or your approach to helping them.

If they aren’t the person who can or should say yes, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Maybe their fleet manager, or boss, or spouse, or technical supervisor, or CEO needs to be your prospect. Get a referral to the right person and get their enthusiastic endorsement of your solution.

Many sales are lost because the salesperson didn’t take the time to truly understand what the prospect needed or was most concerned about. If I’m concerned about dependability and product longevity, then urging me to buy simply on price won’t complete the sale. Hear them clearly and confirm that what they care most about is what you’re attempting to solve.

Once value outweighs price, the purchase is almost assured. At this stage, they’re considering buying but still need to see the numbers or proof that a yes will bring them more value than it takes from them in cost or effort. Make it obvious to them and easy for them to explain to others.

Urgency is simply a perception much of the time. If there’s no compelling reason to do the repair now, then a delay costs them nothing. Make them aware of all the factors — the potential that the problem might grow worse, the time-value of money, the unseen problems that occur from delay, the missed opportunities and continuing difficulties or reduced capacity they’ll endure until your newer, simpler, easier, smoother solution is applied.

In the end, the no that stops you is the one you accept. If they say no early and you keep asking the same basic question, you’ll lose the sale. Urging isn’t selling. “Come on, just give me a chance!” “Please, I promise you’re going to love this.” “Why not just give it a try?” All of these are forms of desperation in selling.

Don’t simply revert to the old sales closes. Those are fine structures for dialog but canned responses don’t convince buyers. Show them that you really care about helping to get them back on the road. Salespeople who tell the truth and genuinely care about helping people are the ones people are eager to buy from. I sincerely hope you’re one of them.