Avoid losing control the sale. In fact, never do so. Strive to lead the sale. There are many levels of control where selling is concerned but I’ll limit myself to one; the sales person-prospect engagement; that is, the salesperson-prospect conversation in sales. Other types of sales controls rotate around the sales process, system and management. But none of them can happen if there’s no customer on board. So, where prospect or customer engagement is concerned, as a rule of thumb, always stay in control of a sale.

Importance of sales control

Why sales control is necessary is because, if you are not leading you are following. And it is highly unlikely that the prospect will lead you to closing himself. (It’s truly a paradox of selling; even prospects that need your product will rarely say, “Kiss me now.”  You will still have to instigate the close, which, incidentally, is an example of controlling the sale.)

So anyway, he won’t close himself. Instead, he will lead you down a rabbit hole. In fact, polite of expert prospects at controlling the sale can even leave you so pumped you leave there believing (and telling anyone who cares to listen) that you have the sale. That’s until he’s not picking your calls any more nor being responsive to your follow-ups.

How do you keep control of the sales conversation?

So how do you ensure you are leading the conversation? Well; by ensuring that you are using your ears more than your mouth. This is the most fundamental level of knowing that you are controlling the sale. Whoever is talking more is following. This is because, or should be because, he is responding to questions that are being asked.  In this case, you, the salesperson, want to be the one asking the (insightful) questions and the customer generously responding to them.  

If you are a lady, imagine you are the one asking the man questions on the first date and him responding about himself. You can’t imagine that, can you? Or, if you a patient imagine being the one asking the doctor the questions and he responding; would that conversation yield a prognosis? I doubt. Not a useful one anyway; especially if it involves injections and surgery. So, like a doctor, or the man, control the sale, but keep it conversational, not interrogatory. Even the waiter, using permission selling, who ever so politely asks, “Would you like to order a drink, Sir?” is in control of the sale. After all, the customer (lady, patient) is not a criminal. So be human.  Control the sale without being annoying.  As among the sales quotes I like says, “You are serving a customer not a life sentence.”

stay in control of the sale

Examples of staying in control of the sale

But make no mistake. The conversation can easily tilt out of your favour. This can seemingly benignly happen when you take bait. For instance, the prospect asks: “Can you offer the service to or Finance department?” Instead of exploring the question and keeping the control, the salesperson instead hears wedding bells ringing in his head. ‘Closing signal’, ‘closing signal’, he hears the bells chiming. And then he enthusiastically responds with, “Absolutely. Yes. In fact…” Then he proceeds to explain how they’d do it and zooms in for the close, as the prospect, feeling rushed, zooms out of the conversation.

Now if only the seller had, acknowledged with, “Our services can be deployed across any department really; curiously, why did you single out Finance?” And just like that he goes back to controlling the sale, and also gets further insight into the prospect’s pain. Possibly, they had a nasty experience with the competitor and you can now align your response accordingly. Now, had you not explored the question, you might have ended up enthusiastically stating the mistake the competitor made, thinking you are closing. Ouch! Indeed, if sales were a game it would be a mind game.  

Mistakes that lose you control of the sale

Other ways to control the sale is by avoidiing these three mistakes: Your cell phone ringing because you left it on; forgetting where the conversation left off when an interruption happens, and ignoring ice breaking cues like the family photos on his desk. You can read more about that here.

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