Are you a bystander in your own sales process?

A few years back there was a cop show on TV called “The Closer” about a chief detective who was especially talented at getting confessions out of criminals. (Okay, I confess. I enjoy watching cop shows.) Without the “close”, in this context the confession, there was no arrest. The “close” was the moment of truth. If it never happened, the work of the arresting officers was completely wasted.

I bring this up because I just spoke with a very kind person who had a clear philosophy to never ask for the sale. They are not alone in this thinking. Many justify not asking for the sale with the statement “ I don’t want to be pushy.” They further rationalize, “If someone is interested, they’ll contact me.” At face value, this line of thinking has merit. But in reality, this philosophy is a trap that keeps your business from thriving.

This sales approach could be characterized as: Show up, educate, wait. Showing up is always good. Educating without knowing the buyer’s frame of reference is risky. Although patience is a virtue, waiting for a prospect to chase you down so they can buy only occasionally works to your benefit.

I don’t want to be pushy.

All our actions – the things we do or choose not to do – are driven by beliefs and values. “I don’t want to be pushy,” is based on a belief that the mere act of asking for the sale puts unjustified pressure on the prospect. You may further justify that it isn’t polite, and therefore wrong. (Any of this resonate with you?)

This way of operating denies you the opportunity to learn about your prospect. If you don’t understand them and their situation, it’s impossible to confidently recommend your solution to their problem. You can’t because you don’t know what their problem is. You’re doing all the talking as you try to educate them, leaving you in the dark about the other person. This does work – some of the time, which reinforces this belief keeping you trapped in a less-than-successful sales process when the truth is this: There is a way to respectfully close the sale.

It isn’t either or, it’s yes and.

It isn’t that you ask for the sale or you don’t. It’s how you connect with the prospect that earns you the right to ask for the sale that matters. There is a time to educate, but that is not up front.

Here’s a more effective sales process to consider:

  • Show up, qualify by diagnosing the problem, the person’s budget and their decision- making process.
  • When you know all three things, and you are confident you have a good solution to their problem, then it’s time to close.
  • Once they say “yes”, then educate and deliver the solution. If they say no, you’ve avoided wasting their time and yours by telling them all the details.

This approach requires a purposeful dialogue with the prospect where you simultaneously learn about them while helping them diagnose their own situation. This give and take conversation helps you both figure out if working together is a good fit. They are the decision maker. You are the decision gatherer. You have earned the right to ask the person what they would like to do next.

You must ask for the decision because the subconscious message you send by not asking undermines the likelihood that the prospect will buy.

That is a close that often works really well: “What would you like to do next?”

Not asking gets interpreted as a lack of confidence in your own solution, lack of caring for the buyer, or both.

Take control of your sales process.

You owe it to your prospects to control the sales process, while allowing them to be in control of the content. The content is their story, their situation, what they care about. The process, when executed well, helps both parties get the best possible outcome from every sales encounter.


Take 5 minutes to write down the process you typically follow when you’re selling. If you’re not sure whether your approach is the most effective one for your business, contact me to set up a no cost, no obligation consult.