Would you like to know a powerful, amazing secret for how to close a sale? Are you ready? Here it is:

Ask for it!

Have you ever been in a buying situation where the salesperson went on and on about every detail of every product the company ever made…and never got around to asking you to buy?

Incredible, but true: some salespeople actually make it difficult for the customer to buy. Professional salespeople, who practice their presentations, purchase all of the tools they need, invest in high quality suits and dresses so they look their professional best, then spend valuable time with their prospective customers—and never ask for the sale.

The Big Three

Never leave an appointment without asking for at least one of the following three actions from your customer:

1. Buy the product—right here and now.
2. Even better, buy the product and sign up for an automatic reorder shipment.
3. Give a referral of a friend or relative who might be interested in your products.

Asking someone to buy in a socially acceptable way is not difficult. You can simply say, “May I make a suggestion?” or, “What would I have to do to earn your business?” or, “If this makes sense to you, Mary, is there any reason why we can’t get started right now?”

Bill Gove, the acclaimed “Father of Public Speaking,” used to say: “In the history of man, no salesperson has ever suffered bodily harm from asking another person to buy something.”

Yet we often reach the part of the selling process where it seems appropriate to ask for the order…and fail to ask. Why?

Develop the Habit of Asking

One reason stems from an addiction to having the approval of others. The desire to be liked (or the fear of being disliked) becomes more important than asking the person to buy your product.

We’ve all been there. We really want to hang in there a little tougher with the prospect, but think to ourselves, “He might see me as too pushy…or laugh at me…or get angry at me.”

Incredible, but true: some salespeople actually make it difficult for the customer to buy. Professional salespeople, who practice their presentations, purchase all of the tools they need, invest in high quality suits and dresses so they look their professional best, then spend valuable time with their prospective customers—and never ask for the sale.

To overcome these negative thoughts, you need to systematically desensitize yourself to the mental and emotional reactions that occur from hearing the word “no.” That’s a nickel phrase for becoming mentally tough enough to ask, ask and then ask one more time—without being emotionally affected by the response.

To the average salesperson, rejection is the enemy. The sales masters understand the truth of sales: you are paid to handle rejection. (Think about this: if all you had to do was take orders, how much would you really be worth to your company? Order-takers are a dime a dozen; solid salespeople are worth their weight in gold.)

“Easy to say,” you’re probably thinking, “but how? How do I get past those fears, how do I move from average to master? How do I systematically desensitize myself to the fear of rejection?”

Here is the best and easiest way I know: develop the consistent habit of asking. I don’t mean necessarily asking for a sale; I’m saying, get into the habit of asking, period. Ask for what you want, every chance you get, whether it’s for extra pickles at McDonald’s or for a non-smoking room at the Hilton. Ask people for their opinions, thoughts, and ideas. Ask for referrals; ask for references, ask for permission to ask your prospects a question.

Never pass up an opportunity to ask, and you will build the single most powerful habit you could possibly have as a salesperson.

Your Bedrock of Belief

Here are three ideas to keep in mind when you are selling:

  • Your belief (or lack of belief) in the product line is obvious to your prospect.
  • You have something your prospect needs and will benefit from.
  • Your prospect will likely have little education on your product line. A major part of your sales success will rely on your ability to convey the benefits of your product in a clear, concise manner.
  • You owe it to your friends and family to be the best salesperson you can be. You owe it to them and to yourself to master this business of selling as if it were a matter of life or death—because it could be.

    Not long ago, a friend sent my husband and me some heart disease prevention supplements. The package sat beside my desk for six months; I had completely forgotten about it. Then one day, my dad went in for a regular check-up; next thing we know, he’s in intensive care, headed for triple-bypass surgery.

    Here is the devastating thing: it had never occurred to me to offer him these products that were sitting by my desk. How sad is that? I knew he had high cholesterol and symptoms of a heart condition. I’m not saying he would have taken the supplements. (Knowing Dad, he probably wouldn’t have!) But I could have asked. I never gave him the choice or opportunity to turn me down. Would it have helped him? Who knows? Since I didn’t ask, I’ll never know.

    Remember: believe in your products, believe in your company—and most of all, believe in yourself. When you have these three beliefs in place, you will have no trouble asking anyone to buy, ever again.

    Already have these beliefs in place? Then start asking! Now that you know what holds most salespeople back, it’s time to take action. Build your beliefs, ask for the orders, and watch your volume soar!

    Dawn Siebold is co-founder of the Gove-Siebold Group
    a training organization that helps networkers
    develop world-class communication skills.