Ask For The Order

Sales Secret #2

I love to sell and have made the science and art of selling my life’s work. This is one of a series of Sales Secrets blogs posts.

Since 1989 I have kept a sales journal. It fills twenty-five hardcover journals (50,000 pages) and contains the following information on every sales call I have made since October 1989. A total of 23,806 pitches.

  • Date
  • Client
  • Product / Service Pitched
  • Value
  • Result
  • Specific Preparation
  • Long Term Results

Over the past four months I worked with a hard-working University student to compile all of this data and enter the results into a database.

The results provided a unique window onto the process of selling as well as my personal selling evolution.

An interesting piece of data came to light.

In all of these pitches I made a direct request for the business 57% of the time.

When I directly asked for the order I got the business 83% of the time.

When I did not directly ask for the business I was ‘given’ the business 3% of the time.

The majority (91%) of the times I successfully asked for the business I had a high expectation of getting the business. 9% of the occasions I asked for the business with a low expectation but still got the business.

Of the 43% of the pitches that I didn’t ask for business, 3% was given to me, 12% was closed at the next meeting, and 6% was closed eventually. It is impossible to know how much business I didn’t get simply because I didn’t ask but I expect that I have probably left millions of pounds in business on the table over the years.

In reviewing the actual hand written notes I remember most every pitch.

One pitch for a manufacture of artist paint sticks out!

In the countries that I represented this company, I closed 100% of the 374 pitches made to retailers and distributors. The pitch was for a retail display of a new range of artist paints. It was the right product at the right time and I believed in its value 100%. As a result, I crafted a compelling and aggressive pitch with three alternative offers. I had a 100% expectation that every retailer would order. I believed that every retailer absolutely needed this product range. My expectations were met!

The huge success got the attention of the manufacture who was amazed at my 100% market penetration when other markets, not managed by me, got only a 52% penetration.

My expectation of success, drove the creation of a winning sales process.

The process included a compelling message, and a powerful pitch which always included a request for the business (almost a demand in this particular case).

The result was powerful

My personal lesson from these numbers is that a salesperson should always ask for the order but that should be supported with a powerful sales process.

Just asking doesn’t get!

The secret: Do your homework, prepare and then pitch with the complete expectation of success, then ask for the business!

The above data was based on a total of 23,806 pitches.