Building Community Through Better Relationships

The Big Ask

“Nothing happens until someone sells something.” is a familiar business rule of unknown origin.  A corollary can be “No sale is made without ‘The Big Ask’”.  Successful sales professionals consistently approach their craft with discipline and skill.  Likewise, professionals who intend to escalate their fortunes realize that applying their craft in transforming prospects into clients is critical.

Sales professionals purposefully incorporate sales strategies, steps and processes to achieve their goals.  Curiously, professional services professionals routinely use the term, business development, to seem less intrusive when referring to sales efforts.  However, engaging someone in a business transaction requires some level of intrusion.  Essentially, business development and sales fundamentals remain the same.  And, concluding the process under either name requires the professional to execute.  Successful execution features The Big Ask!

No matter how many steps are involved, what methodology is applied, or which closing technique is perfected, business sales are achieved when one person asks another person to do business together.  Inferior business development practitioners often obey the process to the letter – step by precise step – then neglect to ask for the business.  This practitioner literally believes that the process will close the deal.  Failure is the process’ fault; the insecure, but allegedly competent, professional remains beyond reproach.  Even when the seller benefits from superior brand recognition, the actual relationship revolves around connecting individuals. The process is the tool. Success belongs to the professional who skillfully uses the tool, then owns the result.

This perspective by no means minimizes the importance of the strategy, steps, nor processes.  No successful business development professional would routinely approach a prospect and ask for the order immediately.  The Big Ask is an essential component, but not a silver bullet.  Logic and order does exist for to experience business development success.

This approach can be summarized in four activity groupings:

1. Engage the prospect – Market, call, email.  Make a way to get the prospects attention. This grouping involves the prospect learning that the seller exists and has something valuable to offer.

2. Connect at a personal level – This grouping is often referred to as building like and trust.  Inferior sales efforts stall here because ineffective professionals may assume that if the prospect likes them, they will clearly buy from them.  The real value from this grouping is establishing credibility so that the professional’s claim of solving a problem or meeting a need is believed.

3. Communicate how to help them solve the problem – Demonstrating excellence leads to success in this grouping.  People buy good feelings and solutions to problems.  The prospect needs to understand how the professional intends to achieve either of these two.  The skilled professional makes sure to clearly tell how.

4. Ask for the business – Reason, persuade, appeal.  These actions are potential paths for a prospect to agree with the sales professional.  However, intentionally and clearly asking for the business is the direct path to achieving the desired answer, “Yes!”

Too often, professionals receive business development training and apply their new education by mindlessly performing the process.  Effective sales processes are elegant. Effective sales processes are logical. Effective sales processes are strategic.  But, the sales process fails without full and complete execution.  Full execution means boldly using The Big Ask.

The process does not win the business by itself.  People do business with people.  Often prospects feel good about a sales professional in a certain business because of the brand that the person represents.  But, people still must connect.  And the connection is not complete until The Big Ask is made.  Right now, a prospect has a problem to solve using the attributes your business possesses.  Deploy The Big Ask and explicitly ask them for a business relationship.  Do it with the next prospect and enjoy sales growth!


By Glenn W. Hunter


November 5, 2012 - Posted by | Better Person | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] presentation. She mentioned an example that appealed to her area of career interest. Then, she made The Big Ask. Can you introduce me to someone who can help me land an internship? Fortunately, I had recently […]

    Pingback by It’s Not Entitlement; It’s Embracing Possibilities « UpliftAnother1 | November 3, 2014 | Reply

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