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Asking for the Sale: Only Six Possible Conversation Outcomes

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In previous blogs, we have discussed the many and varied reasons why people fear asking for the sale at the end of their presentations. Whether it is due to an emotional reason, like fearing rejection, or due to the depiction in pop culture of the salesperson as a slimy self-serving figure, people don’t want to align with those things. As long as you are using ethical sales techniques and have a genuine belief that your service will help your prospect, then there is nothing to fear.

Once you believe what you’re doing matters, the next fear you’ll have to overcome is the fear of the unknown. Generally, if I ask a room full of salespeople how many different possible responses you could get after asking for the sale, I will hear there are dozens, hundreds, infinite! In actuality, there are only six response types you will ever receive. We will define all six types and explore how we should respond in kind.

1. Rejection: This happens if someone outright has no interest in you or your solution. These people have no issue with just ending the conversation and walking away. They even may reply angrily or offensively, like telling you exactly what they think of you or your solution.

Insight: Almost exclusively, rejection happens on cold calls or when you try and stop people in their tracks and force them to acknowledge your presence. This single fear, rejection, is what holds most of you back. However, this is an irrational fear because the vast majority of us are not pitching our services cold. Therefore, actual rejection, that stuff you fear, rarely happens.

2. Objection: A statement that demonstrates the prospect is interested, at least generally, in what you have to offer, but there is at least one or more concerns holding them back from committing today.

Insight: Can be overcome by the salesperson at point of sale. Scripted responses here are crucial to your success. In almost any given scenario in fitness sales, there are only five objections you will encounter — time, competition, commitment, spouse, and money. Develop your rebuttals, and you will achieve a much higher level of success.

3. Negotiation: The prospective member is interested in your service or solution and is telling you they will enroll today if you can give in on something from your initial offer. Maybe they are seeking a reduction in fees, free add-ons, additional free periods, etc.

Insight: Can be overcome by not leading with your bottom basement priced option. Leave something that you can offer the prospective member if they seek to negotiate. We can’t always waive or lower fees, but being able to rebut with, “I can not knock $50 off the enrollment fee, but I can give you a $50 gift card toward our personal training services. How does that sound?”

4. Question: Prospect is still interested in your service or solution, but are not yet sure this is the right solution for them or that a competitor may offer a superior service or solution.

Insight: The fact they are asking questions shows they are still engaged in the process. Questions mean they have not collected enough information to make an informed decision. Once you answer said question, you will generally be met with one of the other five replies.

5. Condition: The prospect is stating they are interested in your service or solution, but only if you can deliver on a stated demand or need. An example would be a member seeking a saltwater pool for a skin condition.

Insight: Conditions are usually demand statements that you can either meet or cannot meet. Ethical selling comes into play here, as well. If someone says to you, “I will join if we can meet every Sunday for the next year,” and you reply with, “We will try and figure it out,” you are potentially misleading them.

TIP: Questions and negotiations can often be misinterpreted as conditions. Make sure you ask follow-up questions to dig just a little deeper.

6. Stall: This is a tactic a prospect uses to create additional time and delay decision making at the point of sale. A stall is always a cover for one of the other five responses. The most common delay you will receive is, “I need to think about it.”

Insight: Usually, a stall is a mask for either a condition or an objection. It is best addressed by asking, “If you do not mind me asking, this seems like a great solution for what you were looking for. Is there something I didn’t answer maybe that makes you feel like this is not the right solution or service?”

Now that you have the knowledge and you can anticipate what to expect, the only thing that may be holding you back is the confidence that comes from hard-won experience. Formulate your plans, pivot and improve as you go, and you will find that success is just on the other side of failure.

Success isn’t a happy accident, my friends.


Jason R. Stowell is the division director of fitness and wellness for JCC of Greater Pittsburgh. He is an award-winning fitness leader with over 20 years of successful experience providing strategic planning, talent management, and expert-level sales training in the health and fitness industry. Connect with him on LinkedIn here

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