“It’s moving like a freight train.” That was Stan Hall’s first laughing response when I asked what he knew about the deal our people are working on with his man Victor Herstad.

In part, Stan was flexing a little muscle, letting me know that he wasn’t going to be run over, and he could derail us if he chose. But there was more admiration in his voice than warning. He was impressed.

I know just what you mean, my friend, I thought. That’s what Commitment Objectives bring to the table. You’d be amazed how many of our deals gain momentum like this since we adopted Action Selling.

The Commitment Objective concept was the first thing that really leaped out at me when I happened to pick up the book, “Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional Even If You Think You are One.” That was almost two years ago now. It was the first step on a journey that has completely transformed our business.

‘Action Selling insists that you always have a Commitment Objective for sales calls.’

Action Selling insists that you always must have a Commitment Objective for sales calls. This is a predetermined goal to gain the customer’s agreement to take the next logical step that will move the sales process forward: Gain Nancy Winslow’s agreement to bring Victor into the process. Gain Victor’s agreement for a working proposal meeting. The ball never stops rolling. The momentum never stops building.

My phone call to Stan had a Commitment Objective: to gain his agreement that he and I would talk again after GoTeam’s proposal was presented. I had additional goals, of course. During the call I wanted to reassure him that GoTeam was the right choice and that I, as CEO, would make it my personal business to see that our solution meets all of Amstand’s needs. I described Ron and Carrie as my best people and pointed out that his team, Victor and Nancy, has forged a great relationship with my team. But above all, I succeeded in gaining Stan’s commitment to take that next step.

‘Commitment Objective forces our salespeople to identify what that next step should be and then ask the customer to take it.’

There always must be a next step. Always. No matter how complex the sale, or how winding the path to reach the moment when the ultimate authority makes a final buying decision, having a Commitment Objective for every call forces our salespeople (and me) to identify what that next step should be and then ask the customer to take it. Our rule: “No Commitment Objective, no sales call.”

When I first encountered the concept, I thought of Woody Allen’s line in “Annie Hall” about how a relationship is like a shark: It has to keep moving forward or it dies. Then and there the idea struck me that if GoTeam institutionalized Commitment Objective as a requirement for every salesperson on every call, we would have a built-in mechanism to ensure that our client relationships kept moving forward.

I still picture a shark, but if the momentum made Stan think of a freight train, that was fine. His metaphor actually may be better because it suggests a machine with a lot of moving parts. It isn’t the Commitment Objective concept alone that moves our deals ahead but the fact that it is built into a systematic process. The elements in that process work together to make it far more likely that customers will, in fact, agree to take that next step…

Duane Sparks

About Duane Sparks

Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling. He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations. Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).

Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).