The Commitment Objective is the foundation stone of Action Selling. Everything else in the sales system hinges on the idea that you must go into every single sales call you make with a Commitment Objective in mind.
The Commitment Objective is so crucial to professional and successful sales calls that if you don’t have one for a call, you are wasting the customer’s time and your own. That’s right: Without a Commitment Objective, you have no business calling on a customer at all.
Without a Commitment Objective, you are wasting the customer’s time and your own.
A Commitment Objective is entirely different from the more familiar sales call objective. You can have any number of perfectly valid call objectives when you visit a customer: conduct a needs analysis, explore opportunities to get more of the customer’s business, ensure that the customer is happy with your service—the list is endless. But a Commitment Objective is a different animal.
A Commitment Objective refers to a specific, concrete action that you want the customer to agree to take. What do you want the customer to commit to DO by the end of this sales call?
“Well, naturally, I want the customer to agree to buy my product,” you say. Sure you do—eventually. But in business to business selling, final buying decisions are rarely made as a result of a single sales call. More likely you will need to make several calls to a corporate buyer or to multiple corporate buyers. You will be engaged in a certain sales process. And whether you have consciously mapped out that process or not, it will include some definable milestones that you must reach on the way to a sale. Those milestones might include things like “conduct a thorough needs analysis” and “meet with all key players who have a voice in the buying decision.”
In the earlier stages of your sales process, the question isn’t, “Can I get the customer to agree to buy my product?” Instead, the milestone question is, “Can I get the customer to agree to come along with me to the next logical milestone?”
Commitment Objectives are all about moving the sales process forward. Will the customer commit to taking that next step on the path? The success of every sales call you’ll ever make hinges on the answer.
Of course, if you haven’t figured out what the next step should be, you can’t ask for customer commitment. And if you don’t ask for commitment, you won’t get it.
Don’t let competitors scoop up the pot that you left on the table.
Action Selling in Action
Veteran salespeople often are astonished when they discover what a wonderful difference Commitment Objectives make to their sales calls. Tiffany Love, manager of sales training for veterinary health company Ceva, with U.S. headquarters near Kansas City, KA, saw a case in point when she introduced Action Selling to a veteran salesperson named Becky.
Becky was a new hire at Ceva, “but she had more than 15 years’ experience in sales, and she had been through tons of sales training that always talked about ‘call objectives,’” Love says. “She wasn’t convinced that a Commitment Objective would actually make a difference in the outcome of a sale. So the week after she left Action Selling training, she ran her own experiment.
“On Monday and Tuesday, Becky set about her sales calls with classic call objectives (e.g., follow up on this, find out about that). On Wednesday and Thursday she developed Commitment Objectives for her calls (e.g., gain agreement from veterinarians to dispense our Vectra product as the No. 1 treatment for flea and tick control).
“When Becky called me on Friday,” Love continues, “she opened with the line, ‘Well, I’ve been schooled.’ She went on to say that she could not believe the difference in the outcomes of her sales calls. They felt more organized; she felt more confident moving through the sale; she knew what she really wanted to accomplish, so she was better able to prepare a strategy to get there; and she won more business.
“It was really fun to hear a veteran with years of sales success get so excited about learning a new selling process. She’s a true Action Selling believer!”