📄 Why you need permission in sales and with people, and how to get it at four different levels

SalesFlowCoach app How to get the four levels of permission in sales MartinStellar

Selling without permission is coercion. You can’t morally or ethically have a sales conversation with someone who hasn’t given you permission for that type of conversation.

You can't sell - whether it's a product or an idea - to someone who doesn't want to talk about buying.

So what you want to do, is obtain permission, and you get that permission simply by asking for it.

When you do, wonderful things happen.

Instead of protesting, objecting or ghosting you, buyers will respond with "Tell me more", "How does it work", "Can you help me with XYZ", "How would you solve problem X", "Where do I sign?" or even "Take my money".

To make that more likely, you need to consider the four different levels of permission, and keep obtaining higher levels of it as you go along in the sales interaction.

Level 1: Permission to ask questions.

You get that level when someone agrees to meet with you. Once in the meeting, you say something like: "Mind if I ask a few questions?" and you're good to go.

Level 2: Permission to ask deeper questions.

This is where you find the problems behind the problems, and the causes behind the causes (Google ‘the 5 whys’ for more on that kind of inquiry - it’s damn useful).

You get that level of permission by saying things like "That sounds like a serious issue - can you tell me more about how that started?"

Level 3: permission to discuss how you might be able to help.

This isn’t where you’re selling: it’s where the two of you are exploring if you’re a good fit, mutually.

A simple phrase like: "Want to talk about how I could help you with that?" is all you need.

Level 4: permission to ask for the sale.

Asking for the sale is often the most daunting part of the entire sales process, but it won’t be if you first took care of gaining the first 3 levels of permission.

When you do, asking for a sale will be as easy and natural as saying to a friend "So shall we catch that movie tonight?"

In your case, you can simply ask: "Should we talk about how to make this deal official?" or "Is this a good time to discuss how to get started?"

Note that in all examples, the question is "Is it ok if we have this type of conversation?"

This is important, because a sale happens in the context of a conversation. And it's your job to make sure you have the right types of conversation with your buyer, at the different stages of the sale, in the right order, as outlined above.

Questions are the currency that buys you permission - including permission to ask for the sale.

Further reading: 📄 What do I do when a sales conversation doesn't go anywhere?

Tired of hagglers, stalled deals, and getting ghosted?

You're not alone: everyone who sells faces that. Subscribe for a short daily email, and get better at selling every day.

Bonus: Instant download of the 📈 SFC Pipeline Habit Scorecard 👇

Need some help?

Send a message to Martin