Vistage/TEC speaker Sam Manfer really hits the nail on the head on the subject of closing sales quickly. Yes, it’s mostly common sense, but how many times do we forget to apply these inveterate principles?
Get the order
When it’s time to close the sale, there are those who can say “yes,” “yes, maybe,” “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know.” It’s important to get through the gatekeepers to the “yes” person as rapidly as possible, even if you have to move up the ladder.
Encourage powerful people to commit
Simply asking for the commitment forces a response: “yes,” “yes, maybe,” “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know.” Regardless of the response, the door is left open for you to ask, “What else must I do to prove this is the right decision for you and your company?”
What’s the feeling going on?
This is so often overlooked in sales closing situations. Pure logic isn’t governing the final stage of decision-making. The analyses, fact finding, competitive comparisons and so on, have already taken place. Knowing how the buyer is actually feeling and responding at the moment can either seal or unseal the deal. Missing the “feeling” element is something an inexperienced salesperson will often do.
Know what will make the buyer feel good
It just makes sense that you know what makes the buyer feel good about the impending buying decision. For example, what is his perfect solution to the problem your presentation claims to resolve? Have you made his team genuinely invested in that solution? Do you sense that you’ve gotten their vote? Get them to affirm this.
Too many sales closings are accompanied by false understandings about where the decision-maker is in relation to the sales process. It’s easy to jump the tracks because of false closing assumptions, and that’s why the power of the question is critical at this juncture.
In other words, the final sales presentation should be made after all the relevant questions about the customer’s wants, feelings and needs are on the table, not vice-versa.
“Is there anything I else I need to know before I summarize what I understand your expectations to be?” is a perfect segue into your final closing comments.
Find the right person to close
It’s not uncommon these days for firms to use “decoy” closers. These are people who can influence buying decisions, but not make them. The trick is to convince the decoy closer to get you an audience with the final decision-maker. Knowing that you’re with someone who can say “yes” will be critical to your closing success.
Simple clues help
Are you meeting on the factory floor, in the lobby or in the company cafeteria? Or are you actually meeting in an office or semi-private cubicle to close the deal? Off premises, is it an airport lounge, an airport lobby, or private business rooms at both locations? In other words, the status of whom you meet is often correlated with the chosen meeting place.
There are, of course, a multitude of nonverbal cues that can tell you if you are dealing with a decoy or a true decision-maker:
- Assumed liberties such as responding to a text message or a cell phone interruption by the other party.
- Unexpectedly shortening the length of a planned meeting for an unannounced, conference call, for example.
- Missing appointed meeting times.
- “Sit-ins” who were not expected to be a part of the conversation.
Past companies vs. new companies
Closing a sale should theoretically be easier in a company with which you have previously done business. You have known and trusted contacts, a proven track record of performance and so on. But when you’re dealing with a new company, you’re starting all over again. But the point remains that the winning techniques that got you the sale beforehand may not get you the sale today.
The difference is that in this tough economic environment, competitors are getting smarter. Each day, the use of powerful technology like blogs, email alerts and social media has never been greater. Social media technology, blogging, email alerts on the one hand, and high-tech audio-video techniques on the other – are all becoming common tools in the good closer’s arsenal. And regardless of your past successes, taking Joe back out for that proverbial annual golf outing will not do much to close the sale.
Pressure on sophisticated, successful closing techniques will continue to grow in this decade.
Many experts believe that the net result will be more streamlined and cost-effective closing processes. Until next month, we hope you’re right on top of closing the sale.