The importance of asking permission on sales calls

July 31, 2022 0 Comments

I talk a lot about establishing and maintaining control of sales calls: it’s important for us as sales professionals to direct the conversation in such a way that we get the information we need to determine if the prospect is a good fit for our offer, and if if so, what is the best way to position it for them. In this post, I’ll discuss one area where a small, easy-to-implement tweak can make a measurable difference in results: asking for permission.

Why bother asking permission?

On the surface, asking our prospects for permission seems like a weak move. We’re temporarily losing control, briefly handing over the reins of the conversation to the prospect and giving him an outlet if he’s really looking for one. So why do we do it? Before we look at the benefits, let’s take a look at the potential drawbacks to understand why they’re not so disastrous after all.

You are giving the prospect control of the call.

We are? Most of the time, asking for permission takes the form of a closed question (yes or no) to which we are pretty sure the answer will be yes. We’ve given the prospect control of the call in the same way that a McDonald’s employee has given a customer control of the menu by asking if “would you like fries with that.”

You’re giving the prospect an easy out!

Absolutely. This concept of ‘giving prospects a way out’ is outdated and worth walking away from altogether. Your call should strategically incorporate ways for the prospect to release if they are not interested for two reasons:

  1. It’s a litmus test against prospect interest: If you’re looking for outlets, you haven’t done your job of arousing their interest.
  2. The corollary is that if we’re giving prospects opportunities and they don’t take them, we know they’re interested, and we’re subtly reinforcing that interest in our prospects’ minds by forcing them to demonstrate it repeatedly!

Having addressed the apparent drawbacks, let’s take a look at the benefits:

We reinforce our image of educated professional.

Asking permission is the polite thing to do, and with the vast majority of prospects, being polite will go a long way toward establishing trust and respect.

We give the prospect the ability to provide information while restricting their ability to divert the conversation.

Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of a one-sided conversation. Even if the prospect has shown that he is okay with us taking the call, we still want him to feel included in that conversation. Open-ended questions also play a role, but a simple request for permission can go a long way in making the prospect feel engaged while keeping you in control of the wheel.

We’re engaging prospects more in the conversation and in our service offering by scaling the consent we seek.

This is the most important benefit: Closing a deal is simply the last step in a growing chain of consent. Ultimately, we need the prospect to say “yes” when we apply for the business; therefore, it works to our benefit to “get them used” to answering yes before closing that deal. Asking returns the potential customer’s attention to where you want it and makes them feel more interested in the call. Subtly, even subconsciously, they think to themselves, “Well, if I wasn’t interested, I might have said ‘no,’ so I should pay attention.” Ideally, asking for business should always be framed in a context of prior consent. We start by asking for their permission to introduce them: show them our website, do a live demo, send them a proposal, call them back on a specific date, and ultimately ask their permission to start working for them.

To illustrate these benefits, I’m going to go through a couple of examples of situations where a seller might ask for permission and highlight how it benefits them:

Opening of the call

Representative: Hi John, my name is Bill from XYZ Company. I am contacting you because I took a look at your website and I think I can help you improve your lead generation capabilities.

Prospect: Thanks, but I don’t have time for this right now.

Representative: I certainly understand, John. Is it okay if I take two minutes to briefly explain what we can do for you? If that sounds interesting, we can set up a follow-up call, and if not, I’ll leave you alone.

Prospect: Sure. Two minutes. Shoot.

It would have been easy here to gloss over the “I’m busy, call me later” objection and start pitching anyway. But of course, you’re not being very polite, are you? You also have no idea if the potential client is listening to you or if he is mentally thinking about going back to what he was doing before you called. Finally, we’re missing the opportunity to start establishing “yes momentum”: at the end of the day, if the prospect stands their ground and doesn’t give you two minutes, you haven’t lost anything, you can still call. come back later (maybe they were Really busy), or cross them off your list. There is practically no downside.

Going to the demo

Rep: John, are you in front of a computer?

John: I am.

Rep: What I’d like to do, John, is take you to a website that we’ve worked on for a client of mine. He is in his industry and I think he will give you a more concrete idea of ​​exactly what we can do for you. It sounds fair?

John: Sure, what’s the site?

Again, it would be easy to ask them if they’re in front of a computer and, if they are, direct them to the site, but we’d miss a great opportunity to ask permission. We make ourselves appear educated, we are not forcing anything on the prospect, simply suggesting a course of action that will allow them to better evaluate our service. Again, if the prospect rejects your request, it’s not because you haven’t intimidated them, but because you haven’t tried hard enough to generate interest early in the call before attempting the transition (or perhaps simply because of limitations). legitimate time slots, in which case they should be willing and eager to set up a follow-up call). Either way you’re doing them Lean on – engage more and admit to you (and for themselves) that Yesthey are interested in seeing a live demo. Subtle, but powerful.

the closure

John: Well this is all looking great, what are the next steps?

Representative: Glad to hear it, John. How about I pass you some packages and you can tell me which one makes the most sense? Works for you?

John: Sure, shoot.

This is just one example of a way to work permission in our closure. Here we can see that our intrepid hero has opted for a multiple choice closure (a form of closed closing question where we present the prospect with a series of options to choose from, none of which are “no thanks” or “give me some time”). It’s a powerful closure on its own, but adding a permission request is the perfect complement. One of the problems with close closing tools is that we can make the prospect feel boxed in: he becomes wary and even though everything lines up and I want to buyThat’s why they put up last-minute walls. In this case, we have circumvented that concern by giving them a way out. We said, “Hello, potential customer, I’d like to close it with multiple options. Is that ok?” And they have agreed. BOOM! That’s power. We’re also cutting the foreground into more digestible parts that will be easier for the client to swallow: “Yeah, that sounds good.” “Yes, I want to work with you.” “Yes, I would like to hear your options and choose one.” By scaling the consent we ask for slowly, we encourage prospects more and decrease the likelihood of scaring them away when applying for business.

These are just a few examples, but there are many more ways asking permission can be included in your sales calls. As with any tool, it should be sprinkled throughout the presentation so it doesn’t sound forced or scripted, but it’s an effective litmus test of potential client interest and helps us get closer to closing with minimal risk of rejection. Do you ask permission on your calls? What are some of the questions you like to ask and why? Any comments or questions are welcome in the section below, and as always, if you’ve found this information useful, please share it with anyone else who might also enjoy it!

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