“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes, but no plans.” ~ Peter Drucker
Words mean things and when it comes to business, learning how to put words together properly is of utmost importance. Successful sales people quickly learn, it’s not what you ask that is important it’s how you ask it. Twentieth century business mastermind Peter Drucker, in his quote, is referencing the importance of commitment. When working with customers, obtaining their commitment will result in a much higher success rate, even if the commitment is only made verbally.
I recently read a study conducted by a popular restaurant that was having an inordinate number of reservation no-shows that never called to cancel their reservation. The restaurant began requesting patrons when making a reservation to, “Please call if you need to cancel.” The results were virtually unchanged. They were still experiencing about 30% of their reservation customers as no-shows with no notice of cancellation. They then restructured their statement into a commitment question, “Would you please call us if you need to cancel your reservation?” The number of subsequent no-shows without cancellation dropped from 30% to 10%.
By simply asking the question, “Would you please call us if you need to cancel your reservation?” and getting their customers to verbally commit their “Yes” response, totally changed the results. This same test has been proven in numerous other scenarios as well. For example, voters who have been publicly asked if they would vote in an upcoming election and who made a “Yes” commitment show up at the polls over 85% of the time whereas the national average is more in the 60% range of eligible voters.
What areas are you missing out on at your business where simply asking a question that will garner a committed response from your customers would improve results? Here’s an example; while making collections calls, a delinquent customer tells you they will be in when they get paid. Rather than leaving it at this rather uncommitted level, if we pursue further to find out they will get paid next Wednesday, we asked a follow-up questions, “So should I put you down for Wednesday or should I put in your notes that you will be in on Thursday?” Now you will get a verbal commitment your customer will be far more likely to carry through with.
Stretch your thinking on this. You might be surprised at how obtaining a customer commitment will enhance customer relationships. Let’s look at another quick example; you have a customer who has a habit of leaving the door propped open to one of your climate controlled buildings. While you may want to tell the customer, “Close the door when you are through,” you will have much better results by getting their commitment. “We want to make certain everyone’s goods are kept at the proper temperature. Would you please be sure and close the door when you are finished?” and waiting for a “Yes” commitment response.
Think of areas in your business where you are struggling currently. If what you are doing isn’t working well for you, is there a way you can restructure your words into a question that will garner a commitment from your customers? People want to be honest and they want to honor their commitments. By simply restructuring the words you use you can help them follow through and will help your business in the process.
- 12 Tips From Business Legend, Peter Drucker! (ceiatuniversityofmemphis.wordpress.com)
- Asking the Questions (timothysiburg.wordpress.com)
- Entrepreneurship According To Drucker: Your 12 Keys To Success (forbes.com)