A beloved client of Credo once told me that she never buys from someone who doesn’t ask for the sale. It was a casual remark made in passing, but it stuck with me and has had a profound effect on me – not necessarily for closing sales, but rather for thinking about leadership.
At the time, I was just learning how to get new clients and attract talented associates to join Credo—and how to overcome the associated nervousness and fear of rejection (which can be like wearing handcuffs and being blindfolded). This casual comment by this particular client somehow helped my confidence; the notion of “asking for the sale” seemed to indicate competence and confidence. I like to think I have both, so why not put it into play! Personally, I have always struggled with rejection. I take it very personally and it is hurtful to me. Logically, I know it shouldn’t be, and I am naturally a very logical thinker. It is frustrating that rejection bothers me. That’s why I think the fear of rejection is so powerful.
Here’s a great book and author that you might want to explore if what I am saying resonates with you:
Through this author (who I was lucky enough to meet in person at an Inc. 5000 conference), I had a breakthrough in realizing that it wasn’t me that was the problem. That was a huge realization for me. Rejection is a normal part of life and we must accept that, not take it personally, and keep going. Don’t EVER be afraid to “ask for the sale”. Sometimes, and more often than I had expected, the people I expect to reject me end up doing the opposite. Now, that’s a huge life high!
The bondage of rejection fears is like trying to run uphill with ankle weights on. You’ll never reach your potential, and it is both exhausting and frustrating. In fact, by becoming a good closer and getting over your fear of rejection, you can break through ceilings that your mind has created and then start to realize that “ceilings” do not exist!
“Closing the deal” represents a pivotal moment in the relationship between a person and a great leader. When a great leader asks for the person to enlist in his/her cause, the ownership of the situation shifts to the receiver to either say yes or to give a good reason for saying no. A leader can’t enlist people without asking the question and waiting for the answer. Simple, yet so many leaders mess this part up!
In my opinion, posing this question to people is a hallmark of a leader who has confidence in the mission. My moral fiber doesn’t allow me to ask people to do things I don’t fully believe in. This is how I sleep at night and maintain a healthy self-esteem. That being said, when I do believe in something, the direct approach is so much more effective than the hemming and hawing I’ve so often encountered among the leaders with whom I’ve worked with or “followed” over the years. Great leaders know they have to establish an open, honest tone of “Hey, you have a need for something; I have a solution. Let’s do it together.”
If a leader is not asking you to come aboard (they are not trying to “close” you), you need to be very weary. Consider these two reasons why they might be hesitating to pose the question:
- They lack confidence in the value of what they are doing, or in their ability to deliver it.
- The leader doesn’t really care whether or not you sign up.
In each case, you need to exercise extreme caution. It could be that they are merely afraid to ask, and the two points above are a non-issue. The key is to be aware — and go deeper with that person. Find out what is holding them back. It might not mean that they are unworthy of being followed, it might just mean they need to mature as a leader.
If this message is resonating with you, try this out for yourself … For the next week or two, keep track of every purchase you make and count the number of times the salesperson actually asks for the sale. With small purchases, like your daily latte and groceries, this expectation might be overkill. But, you can certainly track it for clothes, services, gadgets, gifts, and big-ticket items (not to mention cookies or anything else being sold by a youth group on your doorstep). Make them sell before you buy! If you’re feeling unusually bold, ask the people that don’t close why they didn’t ask you to buy. That might give you even deeper insight. Unless, of course, you’re afraid of being rejected and don’t want to ask the question!
So, what if you are the leader? What are the things to think about?
- If you’ve done a good job explaining your mission, you have every right to ask people if they’d like the opportunity to enjoy those benefits by joining you. After all, you’re only trying to help them – I’m assuming that you’re intentions are good.
- Remember that people aren’t stupid; they know when someone’s trying to sell them something. When you don’t ask them to “buy”, you are going to aggravate them that you wasted their time and they will also likely lose respect for you.
- Closing is the most efficient thing to do. If you truly believe in what your mission is, you’ll want to enlist as many people as you can. Procrastination is a killer.
Jesus often asked his disciples out loud, “Will you follow me?” Then, he waited for the answer. He knew that the answer received made all the difference.
As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So, Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” John 6:66-69
Jesus inspired people, but he also enlisted them. He got them excited, but then he got them to sign up. He knew that inspiring people and getting them excited was not enough. Jesus was a good salesperson; he knew how to close. He never missed an opportunity to “ask for the order”. He said, “I will do these things. Will you join my team?” Very direct, yet very simple and clear.
Jesus used questions like “Will you follow me”, “Do you love me?”, and “Will you wait in the garden for me?” Then, he waited for an answer to his very direct questions. He had inspired them, but he knew he needed to finish the job. Does he ask people to follow him and then they reject him? Of course. But, that doesn’t stop the leader that knows they have to close. They keep going and don’t slow down.
Jesus wasn’t “a” closer, he was the closer. The reason I know this is 100% true is because when he asked for people to follow him, they had to pay the ultimate price to do so. More so than any other leader has ever asked for. It wasn’t as if it would be something fun, exciting, or self-improvement oriented. It was about giving up their entire lives, and that meant to give up things like all of their possessions. Putting God above their family. Taking hate, pride, resentment, greed, etc. out of their hearts and leaving it behind…not bringing it with them. They had to give it ALL away. They had to view their life on earth as a pit stop in the larger scheme of things and choose instead to live for the Kingdom. In effect, giving up everything of this world. I can’t think of anyone in history that has asked for so much sacrifice while closing a sale. Jesus did it, and he did it effectively.
If you want to read more about the difference between Christians that are cultural and Christians that have really given their life to Jesus, this might help:
There IS a difference, and I struggle playing hopscotch between the two sides, to my extreme struggle and frustration. Only through the Holy Spirit can I be a true Jesus follower.