What could be more important than closing the sale? All of the cold calls, meetings, trade shows, networking events, referral lunches, sales presentations, proposals, follow up calls, touch base letters and everything else you do as a sales professional lead to this crucial moment. And one of the most important factors in being a successful closer is to discover ideas you didn’t know were true and capabilities you didn’t think were possible.
Each new nugget you uncover can take your closing rate to a whole new level. So how would you like to discover the four hidden truths about successful closing that can make gaining new customers as easy and natural as breathing? Here they are:
1. The closing process begins at the very first meeting – most of the work required to be successful when it’s time to close happens early in the sales process. The questions you ask, the compelling reasons you uncover, and the consequences of not making a change (which your questions should help the prospect “discover” on his or her own) lay the foundation for a successful close.
2. Get their commitment to change – your sales conversations must address your prospect’s fundamental belief that “the way we do things now” is just fine. To be successful at the close you need to attack this belief and get the prospect to commit to doing something (anything). He or she may not be ready to select your specific solution at this point in the sales process, but getting the prospect’s commitment to change will dramatically improve your chances for success when it is time to close the sale.
3. Get their agreement to make a decision – before you put a proposal together or respond to your prospect’s request to “put something in writing” you must make a covenant with him or her. You need the prospect to agree to give you a yes or no decision upon receiving your proposal. Prospects don’t have to agree to buy, but you need them to agree to make a decision. If they cannot make this commitment to you do not invest your valuable time in preparing a detailed proposal (if you do, you’re just giving away free consulting).
4. Ask if they want your help – my good friend and mentor Dave Kurlan, author of Baseline Selling, has documented what he calls his “inoffensive close.” It works great because it is so straightforward and easy to use. When it’s time to close, ask the following three questions:
a. “Based on our conversations, do you feel we understand your issues and challenges?” If you asked great questions, found lots of compelling reasons to change, and helped the prospect discover the consequences of not changing, you should get a yes.
b. “Based on what we’ve outlined today, do you feel we have the expertise to help you?” If your proposal addresses the key issues you discovered and you have established credibility as an expert who can help them, you should get a yes.
c. “Do you want our help?” When you ask this last question, don’t say a word until they respond. If they said yes to the first two, you should get a yes at this point as well. If not, you’ll likely run into either a new objection or something you should have uncovered earlier in the sales process.
These are just a few of the hidden truths that are literally in front of you all of the time. Becoming aware of them – even the ones you thought you already knew – will dramatically increase your closing rates and help you book more sales. How can you incorporate these four truths into your closing process? If you look at the opportunities in the final stages of your sales pipeline, consider: How strong is the prospect’s commitment to change? How strong is your covenant with your prospect? Has the prospect agreed to make a decision? If not, what do you need to do to improve your position before you ask your prospect if he or she would like your help?