Maslen on Marketing, Structural tools

A simple but effective way to ask for the order

It’s no secret that to be a good salesperson you have to ask for the order.

But to be a great salesperson you have to ask for the order in a way that makes your customer feel good about it.

In the insurance business, for example, salesmen were always trained never to refer to the contract. Why?

Because the word ‘contract’ has legal overtones. (Of course it does, it’s a legal document. Duh!)

But people get nervous around contracts. Perhaps they have a mental image of Faust’s pact with Mephistopheles, or the picture of Dorian Gray. [Or maybe that’s just you showing off – Ed.]

So your insurance guy leans in with the proffered pen and says something like:

‘OK, I just need to get your signature here and we’re done.’

Or imagine you’re almost on the point of signing away your life for the HP on a second-hand Lamborghini.

The sales lady ushers you into her office, twirling the keys round her finger, and says, ‘Let’s just get the paperwork out of the way and she’s all yours’.

Either way you’re focusing on your new purchase and emphatically NOT the binding contract you just signed that’s going to cost you 85% of your disposable income for the next ten years.

In direct marketing, particularly for any kind of subscription or membership-based service, you have a problem similar to the insurance and car people.

People don’t like subscribing to things. The problem is that they pay up front and then don’t see anything for a week or maybe a month.

Even if they pay by Direct Debit there’s the sense that you have their money and they have squat.

So here’s a simple way to make the buying decision more attractive. You don’t ask them to subscribe. Or to renew. Or even to extend.

You ask them for their permission. Like this.

With your permission, I will send you my insider’s guide to classic car investments.

How lovely, they think. You want my permission. Well, you make a good case … and I suppose I would make some money buying and selling clapped out old rustheaps. Oh, go on then!

And I’m telling you this because?

You can’t sell if you can’t close. And you can’t close if you can’t ask for the order. But try to phrase your call to action so it sounds like something nice in itself, rather than being a jump into the unknown.

Asking your reader’s permission is a simple little trick, but it works.

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