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Asking a prospective or existing client for their business is one of the most challenging things faced by a professional advisor, executive or even business owner.

Other than appearing as too ‘pushy’ when pitchingour services or products (and therefore not doing it at all), closing the deal is usually the next big thing on the list that most non-sales people dislike.

There’s a good reason why too – nobody likes to hear the word ‘No’.

Nobody likes to feel rejected and so the challenge with many non-professional sales people is that they confuse themselves with the deal.

We need to understand that the prospect or client is not saying ‘No’ to us(as in personally) – what they’re saying ‘No’ to is what we are offering them. However, I understand that knowing that logically still doesn’t change the feelings of rejection and dejection that comes with being rejected by a client…

For more on this read my post on handling objections but in the meantime it’s important to remember that when someone says ‘No’ it doesn’t mean they are saying ‘No’ forever – just for now.

The fear of rejection is strongly linked to the fear of failure. We believe that if we fail – that we’ll also be rejected and for most human beings we need to feel recognized and accepted by our peers. So it is entirely natural to feel down when we face rejection.

The important thing to remember is that even when we are turned down,that we keep going. We keep moving forward.

This is just one prospect or client and if we are smart about business development then there should be many more in our ‘funnel’ of people that we are meeting. Successful business development comes down to focused and consistent activity. The more people we see then the more success we earn.

Ultimately new business development is a numbers game – and the higher the quality of the people that we see – and the greater the number that we seek to spend time with – then obviously the higher our ‘closing ratio’ will be.

However there is something that we can do to improve our chances of a positive response when we have positioned our offer and are ready to close.

Specifically it is to use a question that I call a ‘convincer’ or ‘closer’ question.

The sole purpose of this question is to move the client into an emotionally positive space just before we ask them to make their decision about our offering.

Now if you are familiar with my work you’ll know that I’m a great believer in harnessing the power of emotions when looking to influence or persuade people to do things.

I value the fact that the main driver behind decision-making is not logic but emotions. Not thinking but feeling – and the more powerful the feeling we can induce in the neurological system of the person we are looking to influence, then the more power we have to influence them.

So let’s now imagine a scenario where we have made our pitch. We’ve presented the value of what we can do for the prospect or client, we’ve explained exactly how we are going to do it for them and they are happy that they know enough about us and our expertise or resources or experience to be convinced that we are the right people to do the job.

So they are nearly convinced – but they are not there yet. They are wavering or hesitating.

They might be thinking about the last presentation they received or even the next presentation – wondering if they would get a better price or more for their money.

Here’s where the following question can be very powerful.

We ask: ‘How valuable would it be if we were to get the paper work out of the way and make a start on things’ or ‘How valuablewould it be if we were to finalize the terms of the deal now’ or ‘How valuable would it be if we could wrap this up in time for the weekend’ or ‘How valuable would it be if we get you prioritized for the project’ or How valuable would it be ifwe were to get started right away on making those savings we discussed’.

Depending on our specific circumstance or situation – we need to consider the greatest value that we can deliver for a client or prospect from your pitch – and then use the phrase ‘How valuable would it be if…’

The words ‘How valuable would it be if…’ causes the prospect or client to link a value that is important to them to the suggested action that we are positioning in the second part of the question.

If they assign a highor emotionally strong value to the action that we are proposing – then they will make the decision to take the action that we have proposed – allowing us to move forward with the deal.

In most case this question works – but if it doesn’t then we have one last question we can ask to potentially close the deal.

Ask them ‘We’d really like to work with your firm so could I ask you what one thing would you need to be absolutely sure about, to know that we are your firm/partner/supplier of choice?’

This question is full of ‘hypnotic’ or ‘soft’ and ‘embedded command’ language designed to bring out from the person the one thing they need to choose us.I’ll cover more about this in another post.

Usually the prospect or client will then share with us the critical piece that may have been missing in earlier conversations – allowing us to continue the conversation and close the business so we can meet their needs and create a long-term, high-value relationship.