I overheard two sales directors speaking at a conference recently and one of them was bemoaning the fact that he couldn't get his sales guys to ask the right questions and 'go for the close'(I've heard this complaint more than a few times - if you have it check here).
Well first, 'closing' the sale is soo 20th century - if the sales person has built trust and rapport, asked the right qualifying questions, identified the clear needs of the prospect, associated those with the prospect's emotional values and then built a pitch around that - then the sale can be 'assumed' - once all those needs can be met favourably.
But we have two problems with this scenario - 1. most sales people still operate on a 'transactional' selling model - take the order that someone gives you. They are only slowly waking up to the fact the the world has returned to a 'relational' model of selling - where the personal relationship that you build with that person plays an even greater part in the sale than ever before (and in case you get confused - 'relational' selling doesn't mean bringing the prospects to more golf games and dinners!)
2. Most sales people fear the word 'No'.
Look, 'No' doesn't mean 'No'. It means 'No - the timing is not right', 'No - I'm not the one who makes the decisions' , 'No - my budget is shot' 'No - I'm not convinced', 'No - I don't understand you're talking too fast...'
A 'No' is where the conversation gets started not ended. So identify the reason behind the 'No' and work that through with the prospect. You may not always get the sale but if you're prepared to start 'Loving the 'NO'' you'll be surprised how many of them start turning into a 'Yes'.