Closing the sale
So often, I’m told by prospects that they’re biggest sales issue is closing the sale.
I’m told that they need to learn closing techniques; that their sales people don’t know how to close.
And I know with 90% certainty that it’s going to be something else: something that the sales person isn’t doing or is doing ineffectively earlier in the sales process that is causing a lower conversion rate than otherwise. So I start my investigation.
Now, I’m not saying that they can’t ALSO improve the way they convert a prospect into a client, but to think that this happens in one conversation or meeting is folly.
There are a number of factors that influence the outcome and make someone committed to buying from you:
You seek to uncover whether there is a real need as expressed by your prospect and a desire to take action with a timeframe
This is very different to you having a solution to sell. You can have the best solution in the world, but unless there is a real need as expressed by your prospect (not by you), they can articulate the urgency of solving their problem, they have described what would happen if it’s not solved, and why addressing this need matters to the organization and to them personally. They’re not going to offer this up: it’s your role to discover this through questions.
You understand how decisions are made, who all of the decision makers and key people of influence are and have had valuable conversations with all or most of those people
It’s not enough to have a relationship with the “decision maker” alone. It’s rare that any solution will only deliver value to or have no impact on multiple people in an organization. You must understand the value chain, and the impact of your solution on all of those people who will be impacted by your solution. Each key influencer will have different drivers and different needs. Additionally, you also need to understand how decisions are made: formally or informally? How does that impact the way you support the solution?
You understand the value you bring to the organization, the key person you’re talking with and they’ve articulated that value – not you.
Telling isn’t selling. That’s why salespeople MUST be skilled at conducting deliberate conversations using questions to lead a prospect to explain why you, why now, why this solution, and why that matters. It’s a skill that requires planning and execution.
Your prospect has clearly articulated your value over any other providers’.
See above. Skill.
You’ve tested the solution with the key decision maker and have a plan to win the work
The final proposal should not be the first or only document shown to the decision maker. It must be gone through in draft format with those directly impacted by the solution to get their insight, as well as with the decision maker. Before a final proposal is put to the prospect, you must know the critical factors that will make you win the work. Never email a proposal and expect it to do the selling for you. Proposals must be talked through in person or at the very least, over the phone or online. It speeds up the decision making process by enabling the prospect to have any questions answered, the opportunity to do anything additionally that matters to winning and sets an expectation as to next steps in getting started.
It’s never just one thing that “closes the sale”. High value solutions take work and multiple conversations in order to open up the scope, leave no opportunity on the table and maximize your chance to convert.