Are you making or gaining commitments?

Bob Urichuck

Are you making or gaining commitments?

In management, as in sales, who should be making the commitment—you or your buyer?

If you said you, you will want to change your ways. You are caught up in traditional management and sales techniques and need to do the opposite.

The opposite to making a commitment is gaining a commitment by engaging and empowering the other person—the buyer. 

In today’s new economy of buyers that is what management and sales is all about. It is the person asking for the commitment that is in control, not the person making the commitment. The person making the commitment only thinks they are in control.

For example, when salespeople are making and following through on their commitments, they feel they are in control. However, they are experiencing constant delays and even getting rejected by their buyers. It becomes obvious that the buyers are in control of the sales process. The simple reason for this is that the prospects follow a proven buyer’s (sales) process. This particular buyer’s (sales) process puts them in control of salespeople, and the worst part is most salespeople don’t even realize it. So, they keep making commitments, getting delayed and rejected.

Salespeople need to be reminded that their job is to prospect, qualify and obtain commitment from buyers. If the buyer is qualified, it is also the salesperson’s responsibility to obtain commitment from the buyers on the next steps in order to obtain a clear future. If the buyer is not qualified, then it is the responsibility of the salesperson to also reject the buyer while maintaining a relationship for referrals or future business.

There are only four positive outcomes to a buyer encounter:

  1. Yes, they buy.
  2. No, they are not qualified and do not buy.
  3. A clear future—you have clear commitment from the buyer on the next step.
  4. A lesson learned—you fail to get any of the three above outcomes. You reflect and don’t let this happen again.

Traditional sales techniques had salespeople committing to following up, providing details and the list goes on and on. The more you commit to the buyer, the more you put them into control. You are their servant. Is that the clear future that you want?

Sales professionals who follow a proven sales process know how and when to engage the buyer into making commitments. If the buyer makes a commitment, it puts you in control of the sales process and allows you to empower the buyer to buy.

There are a number of ways to engage and empower buyers into commitment. The key is in the way you ask the question that will empower the buyer with the reply you want to hear, so that in the end it is their answer, one that they own and are committed to.

When you make a commitment, you own that commitment and must respect it. If not, you are not trustworthy. The same applies to buyers. If you get their commitment, you get a clear future and you know exactly where you stand—you are now in control. If the buyer gets a commitment from you, they get a clear future and you have no idea where you stand—you are out of control, wasting time and going for a hope-I-get-a-sale.

So, should you be asking for a commitment or making a commitment? 

Understand that not all buyers will respect their commitment to you. You must also gain permission in advance to follow up with them on that commitment.

For example, you ask “When can I expect to hear back from you?”

Client: “Next Tuesday”

You: “If I do not hear from you Tuesday, can I follow up with you on Wednesday?”

Client: “Yes:”

So, the buyer did not call you on Tuesday as committed, but you now have permission to follow up. You follow up as committed and how does that make the buyer feel?


What happens when someone feels guilty? (You did not make them feel guilty; they did it to themselves, because they did not follow through on their commitment to you.)

Obviously there are times where you must make a commitment and follow through on it. However, wherever possible you must gain commitment–that is if you want to be in control and have a clear future.