There’s an old adage in sales: “You have to ask for the sale.” It’s repeated in sales trainings, marketing meetings and coaching seminars over and over again.  However, as a digital marketer, I find that small businesses and entrepreneurs continually omit this critical step. They don’t ask for the sale. Instead, they rely on the customer to reach out to them.

Early in my career I was guilty of this same cardinal sin.  I would present my services to a client, they would be excited and then I would leave them with my business card or service agreement and wait for them to call.  The problem was, they never called.  In my hubris, I expected my presentation skills and service offerings to be all they needed to close the deal.  But it wasn’t. They needed to be asked to buy.

For those needing a little push, here are some simple changes you can make to improve your chances of getting a sale.

Have a call to action on your website.This holds true for any industry but especially in ecommerce. 

For example, I was recently working with a client to optimize his website.  I took one look at the homepage and asked, “Where are the calls to action?” To which my client replied, “Calls to action are tacky and our branding doesn’t allow for it.” I then asked them if their branding was purposely crafted to preclude them from making sales.

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The client took this criticism well.  They reevaluated their design and decided that some artfully crafted calls to action would be a good idea.  Within 30 days their conversion rates had doubled.  The only thing that changed was they were now asking their customers to buy from them.  And their new call to action wasn’t pushy.  It was simply a button saying “Try Now.”

Audit your website and ask yourself if it’s “selling” the product or service to the customer.  If not, then implement calls to action.  The folks over at HubSpot do a great job explaining calls to action in greater depth.

Make it more about a conversation than a pitch. You don’t have to be intrusive or overbearing to ask for the sale.  Years ago, when I realized the error in my ways, I began asking clients how we could get started instead of just leaving them with sales materials.  It wasn’t obtrusive: I wasn’t demanding they sign up with me. I was simply implying that we get started with the work.  My close rate skyrocketed and very soon I had to turn away new clients, because I had all the business I could handle.

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It doesn’t have to involve money. Asking for the sale doesn’t have to involve an actual sale -- the technique holds true for commitments as well.  If you’re someone who works in an industry that requires contracts or partnerships, then you need to take the same approach.  A sale is a commitment that involves money.  However, a contract or partnership is a commitment that requires time and effort.  The same successes can be achieved by asking for a signature.

Customers want you to ask for the sale.The simple truth is, customers want the path of least resistance.  By asking them for their business, you’re taking a decision off their plate and that’s making their job easier.

I have seen clients go to other consulting firms, only to come to me after the fact.  When I asked them why they didn’t go with me in the first place, they told me,“they asked, you didn’t.” 

You may have the best product on the market or the best presentation skills in the industry.  But if you’re leaving it up to your customers to make the decisions whether to go with you or not, then you’re leaving the door open for one of your competitors to waltz in and walk away with your business.  And the only thing they’ll need to do to take your business… is ask for it.

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