The Close

man signing a document and closing a deal

Closing tends to be the most expected event in the sales process for management, sales, and prospects. While stressful, it needs to be done with care and professionalism.
Your responsibility is to work the earlier stages of the sales cycle so that closing becomes a natural conclusion where both parties benefit, creating a Win-Win situation – this includes, closing continually throughout the process. Closing is really the beginning of your business relationship – both parties should be excited about working together.
There are no silver bullets to closing.
Closing comfort comes from basic preparation…
The closing fundamentals

  • Is there value in my product or service for my prospect?
  • What is the dollar value? (return on investment, money savings, etc.)
  • What other value is there? (prestige, safety, non-monetary improvements, etc.)
  • Does the prospect understand and value the benefits of my product or service?
  • Is a decision to buy my offering better than a decision to create something on their own?
  • What risk(s) to the prospect do I need to minimize. (financial, time of implementation, opportunity cost, prestige, what their boss/peers might think, etc.)
  • What urgency have I created to encourage the prospect to move forward now? (time to market, discounts, delivery incentives, guarantees, etc.)
  • Why is buying my product or service a better decision than moving forward with my competitor (or taking no action at all)?
    (Closing statement should be delivered with confidence and a positive, assertive attitude.)
  • Would you like to move forward?
  • Are you ready to get started?
  • Can we go ahead?
  • We can start the process today with a credit card if you’d like.
  • We can deliver it to you by the close of business tomorrow if you’d like.
  • We can have it delivered by the end of the month if we can get a signed contract into the implementation department by Thursday.
  • Should I forward a contract so you can get started?
  • Would you like to try it for a quarter?
  • It’ll take a few weeks to process and ship the order so if you’re interested in moving forward, we should start the paperwork now.
  • Let’s get this off your plate and start the paperwork. What do you think?
  • Let’s start the process so you can get onto your other priorities. Sound good?

The Challenge of Networking

A man and women on their laptop and iphone networking

Referral prospecting is one of the most efficient, and least frustrating, of all sales methods. It is a closing activity that needs to be practiced, rehearsed and tracked for efficiency. Typically, you spend more time selling than prospecting.

To begin, you go through your list of contacts. Many of your contacts will know someone who needs your product or service. If given the opportunity, they will help coach you on what to say and how their referral can be successfully reached by phone or email. Again, getting a referral from someone you know (or someone you don’t know) is your best source for getting solid leads.

Timing is everything. Asking for referrals at the correct moment (when the contact is most enthusiastic for what you have done for him/her, for example) can help increase the referrals you get. Keep in mind, whether or not the contact has purchased from you, it is appropriate to ask for referrals.

When collecting referrals, you need to give an update to your contact. People want to know what happened. Let your contact know that getting referrals is a part of how you get paid. Never give up on a referral. The timing may be off but the referral may be in the market at some future date. Lastly, research shows that the more times you call a given list of prospects from referrals, the better the results.

Attitude is the key factor in selling success while networking. It is all important to ask your contacts for information. Nearly all contacts will comply, if asked, by giving the information you need. However, the fact is that most sales people never ask for information, don’t like to prospect, and especially don’t even ask for referral business. If this is the attitude of your sales staff, then you need to change this attitude right now.

Smarter Negotiating

two people discussion how to sell new products to existing customers over coffee

All of us negotiate. We make some deals and some we miss out on completely. Sometimes we achieve more than anticipated; other times we leave a lot on the table.

My approach to negotiations is not simplistic. Situations do vary, people vary, competitive pressures vary, etc. You cannot take a tough line and expect to win, nor can you give in to the first offer. The actual negotiation is typically an emotional encounter, started with lots of discussion and preparation.

In all of the negotiation, you need to behave rationally. You need to justify your position and explain where you might have some flexibility. You need to leverage yourself during the course of time to being “reasonable,” “practical” and “understanding of the other position.”

If you say something that is not in keeping with the drift, ebb and flow of the negotiation, you stand the chance of being considered not relevant and unreasonable. Negative actions soon follow, where one party will break off discussions. You need to be clear, concise and reasonable in your approach.

You need to gauge how much room you have in the proposed price, consider what secrets may be locked up in the agreement, what the benefit will be for you. Common things that negotiations miss are clauses in agreements that are “escapes,” where if performance does not meet expectation, the other party walks and gets rewarded.

Keep in mind, every good negotiation is a compromise. Either party thinks they should have asked for more or given less. The art of the deal really rests with your interest and timing to get things done the way you want. You need to protect your own essential interests and need the courage to walk away or put the negotiation on ice until you are satisfied with the results.

The Sales Presentation

women giving a sales presentation

In qualifying the prospect, the Fact Finder uncovered key areas that need to be further articulated and explored. The result of doing a sales presentation then is to help the prospect articulate those needs and provide them with information from which they can make a purchasing decision. The presentation should be a dialogue rather than a directive.

Now is the time to SELL!!!

The majority of buyers don’t want to take their valuable time to deal with uncertain salespeople. They want to be sold on what you’re selling. So the language and message must be powerful, not passive.

When in a sales presentation, you need to lead it. That does not mean, however, that the prospect shouldn’t be given a chance to talk. No buyer wants to sit thru even 10 minutes of introduction, followed by 20 minutes of scripted features and benefits of what you are selling.

Let the prospect set the pace of the conversation. Ask your questions to get the interaction you need to get attention and understanding. Ask closed-end questions, when possible, like “This is important to you, right.”

Keep it simple. Stay on track, go thru the entire presentation, but don’t give entire explanations. However, be aware that the part that you may skip over may be the part the prospect wants to know.

What you say and how you speak is important. Monitor your tone, inflection and emphasis when speaking. Keep in mind, the information you are delivering is news to the prospect regardless of how many times you have given the presentation.

The goal then is not only to engage, but to also sell. Give adequate time to make this a selling opportunity by referencing his/her needs and by asking “if those needs can be addressed, would you buy NOW.” [Use tie-downs to get your prospect to agree with you, as needed. It’s one way of getting your prospect to agree with you and start saying yes before you get to your close.]

You Need To Stand Out In The Crowd

white puzzle with one piece missing that stands out

Your priorities have not changed. You need to transform your business processes, boost your revenue, improve your customer intimacy and foster the work of your entire organization.

It is an old-school view that some companies are innovators and others are followers. No business manager should dictate the terms of the company’s existence. You need to make the time to make your business transformative.

You need to develop individuals to be power-players, you need to expect and encourage more individual results. You need to tap the human resources of your enterprise to do things more economically, more strategically, with more focus and conviction. You cannot dictate this, but you do need to nurture these attitudes. You need to encourage growth, you need to compete in areas that may be foreign to you, you need to take on the challenge to be leaner and meaner and you need to be a visionary.

You can continue to struggle or you can apply out-of-the-box thinking to tweak what you are doing. You need to pay attention to quantitative and qualitative measurements; and, you need to be the agent of change.

Bottom line, you need to find your formula for greatness. Whatever happens, your sales staff will play a central role in keeping customers and growing revenues.

Setting the Stage for Qualification

planner open on a table with a vase of flowers

Your goal should be to look for sales opportunities. So, qualifying is about looking for ways to expand your client base, not limit it.

What is a qualified prospect?

-They recognize a problem exists.
-They are motivated to solve problems.
-They feel that your product or solution will solve their problems.
-They have budget to make a purchase. They are willing to spend money to solve their problem.
-They want it now.

You can qualify your prospects to your definition. Trying to create qualified prospects from poor suspects is one of the greatest wastes of your selling time.

You need to develop a “Fact Finder” which is a tool to collect relevant information. Your CRM system can greatly improve the quality of the information by making it a simple process to collect and store this information.

Fact finding is your responsibility. It will help you get closer to your sale. As needs get exposed, favorable circumstances may prevail. Information collected needs to be relevant to moving the sale to the next step. Listening is a big part of this, focusing on understanding and any hot buttons which may help trigger the sale.

Approaching Your Prospect

Person doing work on a laptop

The approach is typically the first step in the sales process. It begins with your personal preparation and how you choose to create a good first impression. Here are some tips to make you more successful in your approach.

On the telephone:

-be prepared.
-be brief.
-be enthusiastic.
-be urgent.
-talk a little faster than normal.
-talk a little louder than normal.
-talk a little clearer than normal.

In person:
-you need to position the prospect’s thought process by responding to any resistance.
-align yourself with the prospect. Speak at the same level.
-validate any concerns.
-learn to handle common objections to down to specifics. (no money, no problem, no hurry, etc.)
-keep in mind what Dale Carnegie has stated, “You never get a second chance to create a good first impression.”

In both activities, realize the value of time, both yours and the prospects. Don’t waste either. Keep in mind, each person you approach has a unique buying perspective. The first step and your goal, is for the prospect to want to do business with you.

99 Percent Perspiration

Two people perspirating while running at sunset

There’s no substitute in the business world for good old-fashioned hustle and innovation. And, no one understands that success is “1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration” better than companies that have seen tremendous growth over the past few years.

These companies are not waiting for things to happen, they make things happen. They typically make their own sales calls, pursue their own leads, not waiting for the next deal to fall and are not consumed by the big deal that may come in shortly.

These companies understand the importance of a stable CRM system. They can accurately receive reports and statistics on sales at anytime. They know how to dig deeper into their clients and prospects and find business. They leverage what they know about their clients to insure their success in future projects. They touch more customers, some neglected by their competition, and they are appreciated by the customer for their engagement with different departments and helping to clarify project needs.

These companies understand that there are differences in the things they do, that one size does not fit all. They may not be able to do everything, but they can do new things to attract business. It is part of their value and culture.

Lastly, these companies understand that it takes hard work to succeed. They understand that the relationship with their client is most important for the success of their business. They feel that they need to provide the best possible solution for their client’s particular need.

Time To Get Cracking

Business time clocks

All kinds of things that happened in the last few years require us to change the way we do business today. The way we interact with customers, is one of many things that changed. Is it bad? No. Is it wrong? No.

Sales and customer service is a business decision. Many companies that adopted the policy to have the client come to them are now seeing that the market and competition have eroded their sales. If the corporate culture sees growth as being too difficult to achieve, they see sales as one of the barriers to make positive change happen. Both examples are typically influenced by conflicting priorities, organization’s politics, lack of funding and lack of skills and competencies to effect positive change.

There are 5 Smart Moves these companies and others can make to positively impact their business, but they must act now:

1. Understand the relationships between existing sales processes and what is done by highly effective organizations.
2. Build upon the successes of the past and attempt to improve upon what was accomplished.
3. Consider organization issues including effective use of budgets, forecasts, sales data.
4. Commit to improving the skill-level of your workforce.
5. Shift an appropriate workload to others inside or external to your organization.

You need to be a company that is very much about fundamentals, especially in times of uncertainty. Companies that work on their fundamentals are much more resilient. They have the agility to take advantage of opportunities, reduce their operational costs and build and grow their organization.

Self-Starting Demand Gen

Just sharpened pencil on a plain white paper notebook

Every company knows that the customer is king and that creating demand among both potential and existing customers is key to multiplying revenues.

What companies seem to overlook is that they must drive their own value proposition and drive their own lead generation. The most effective way to do this is by educating prospects and clients thru web-based seminars (webinars), in-person events, targeted industry events, targeted direct mail campaigns, outbound marketing initiatives and phone campaigns. It all boils down to the personal touch and face-to-face interaction with the customer.

Also, you need to consider taking a more vertical approach to what you do. Your product or service should meet a specific customer requirement. Niche markets need to also be explored, drilling down into verticals for niches that can be exploited for unique products and services.

It is vital, however, that you start with Demand Gen. It is the fuel to extend your sales and market reach. It is important to work your funnel math correctly, based on your sales goals you need to understand how many marketing impressions are required, etc.

The key to your success is strategy. Demand Gen is a big part of this and the first thing you need to consider.