This note from James came in today’s mailbag: “I have a hard time closing the sale. I struggle between wanting to be passive and carefree about the deal and being too aggressive and worrying about losing the sale. I have the skills, competency and experience to do the job, but it’s hard for me to close the sale. Does this mean I’m just a bad salesperson? What do I do to get better at this and find a balance when I feel like I’m trying to grasp a greased watermelon?”

Being passive isn’t the answer. You can’t sit around waiting for your dream client to ask permission to buy from you. But being aggressive isn’t the answer either. It smacks of selfishness and desperation. You aren’t a bad salesperson for not knowing how to do some aspect of the job. Knowing that you don’t know how to do it and doing nothing about it — that makes you a bad salesperson.

If you struggle to close, it could mean you’re afraid to ask for commitments. If you are going to succeed in sales (and in life), you’re going to have to ask people for commitments. Your fear of asking for commitments might be rooted in not knowing what to say if your dream client says no. Or it might be that you don’t feel you’ve earned a commitment. But my guess is that you just lack the right words.

You don’t need a book full of closes. You don’t need special techniques. You just need to ask directly. Try “I feel like we know enough to move forward on this idea. Can we start work on this now, or is there some other step you would like to take first?” Or “Can we get started on this project for you?”

If you’ve earned the commitment you’re asking for, you shouldn’t have any reluctance or fear of asking for it. Be direct but natural, and you’ll get the answer you seek.

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S. Anthony Iannarino is the managing director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company, and an adjunct faculty member at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership. For more information, go http://thesalesblog.com/s-anthony-iannarino/