Times Up! What Do You Really Want?


If you are like most sales people, when it comes down to it, you are downright scared of being direct and to the point and telling people in no uncertain terms, “Here’s what I want!”

Think about it. There’s a conspiracy that encourages people to bury their most important wants and desires. Marketing trainers use consultative selling to draw people out. Social media consultants say “Selling directly is suicide!” People hem and the haw and they even are afraid to ask you what they want to ask you the most. They feel vulnerable about being honest and up-front. It petrifies even the best of us!

Yet when it comes to being successful in business, being frank, open and clearly asking people to give you what you want is what wins the day.

John Baker, a veteran Fortune 25 management and leadership consultant and author of the new book The Asking Formula – Ask For What You Want And Get It, says the world would be a better place if marketers were totally up front and said “I’m selling windows today; are you buying?”

Baker spent several years studying the fears and trepidation people demonstrate in situations across the whole spectrum of human interactions. He concluded that people do not know the best way to get what they want. He then documented the simplest tactics and strategies that he observed in the people who were getting exactly what they were after. His discovery was absolutely earth shattering in simplicity.

Very simply, the most successful people ask for what they want. Then they give the three very best reasons that explain why it makes perfect sense to say yes.

Here’s an example.

A sales person has met with the client, properly identified the needs and tailored a solution that meets the clients’ needs as well as budget. After the meeting is complete the sales person thanks the client and says that he will follow up with him in a few days.

Even experienced sales people, young and old are often stumped over asking someone for the order. They stumble and bumble their way through touchy feely talk about their hobbies, the weather, their pets, family or weekend plans, anything but what they are really after.

Oh sure, all sorts of experts tell you that it’s important to build a relationship, or you have to draw out the prospect, or listen for buying clues, and any number of other items, but the crucial, bottom line issue is that they never get around to asking the big question.

Yet the quickest and best way to ask for the order is to go right up to the person and say:

“Would you do this for you? You’ll see what you want happen. You’ll be able <to do this>, and get to <do that> and I’ll have it to you by <date certain> ….within your budget – guaranteed.”

“It is crucial,” Baker says, “to identify the exact most important request, and brainstorm before you decide on the best reasons. Each reason needs to be carefully selected from a larger number of options and be backed by three important facts.”

It’s about that easy, and the power of this strategy is more than a little amazing. Baker has shown that this method can be successfully used to penetrate difficult accounts, close difficult sales calls, shorten a sales cycle, protect price margins, reduce meeting time, speed up Powerpoint presentations, structure personnel reviews, sales letters, company communications with suppliers, corporate memos and even email messages.

What’s more it is proven to be quite helpful in corporate and business personal interactions with personnel, especially with supervisors and staff.

And it really helps if you put your money here your mouth is:

“Director, let’s implement the plan as follows. We’ve got this and that for a entre, and it addresses the crucial factors like this. It will improve how things operate like this, and we’ll even make sure that it all happens by closing!”

“Conversations are clearer and there is less misunderstanding and I earn lots of points for being thoughtful”, he says with a gleeful smile.

Baker’s formula has three key rules:

  1. Only offer information that is meaningful. The rest is trivial.
  1. Get to the point and ask for what it is you want.
  1. Be quick about it.

Building a relationship is great, but over-doing it turns you into a nuisance.   The biggest problem with consultative selling, for example, is that it gets in the way of the selling. It’s technique overload. It targets intimacy over decorum. It allows for procrastination. It enables salespeople to avoid rejection. After all, if you are busy probing the needs of the prospect you don’t have to risk asking for the sale.

Can you image a vendor at a ballpark consultatively selling you a hot dog: “On a 1 – 10 scale rate your level of discomfort with your hunger?” “Tell me your main objective with the hot dog?” “When you had a hot dog before, how satisfied were you with the mustard and ketchup ratio?”

Isn’t he more effective when he just yells:

“Hot dogs, hot dogs, come and get your hot dogs!”

Just give me the damn wiener!

The Asking Formula – Ask For What You Want And Get It By John Baker

List $16.95, Wonsockon Press, Publication date late fall 2011

For more information visit www.theaskingformula.com

John Baker has held top leadership positions in sales, client service and operations in Fortune 25 companies for more than 25 years. John is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with BA and MBA degrees. He is a member of the National Speakers Association, a noted speaker on topics of leadership, leader development, and building winning organizations. John lives in Minnesota with his family.

The Asking Formula book is based on his Asking Formula workshops and consulting practices.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. CascadeBusNews.com • CBN@CascadeBusNews.com

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