Nothing happens until you close a sale. You don't have an order, an invoice, a customer to serve or any cash to run your business. A closed sale is the lifeblood of your business. Yet so many business owners and sales people I work with are scared to ask for the business.
To help make it easy and systematic here are seven closing practices engineered to sell more in less time, and that you can get started implementing in your sales organization right away.
1. Know your maximum and minimum. Pinpoint what's needed for someone to make the decision to buy from you today. On every sales call, know in advance the maximum you expect out of the call (e.g., to receive verbal approval, to negotiate a final price?, etc.) versus the minimum level of commitment you need to obtain from the client or prospect to close the sale.
2. Always start with a draft proposal. Never let the final proposal be the first proposal they see. Prepare a draft proposal first and walk the client though it point-by-point. This is where you address and respond to objections: not later.
3. Know how decisions will be made. Obtain a crystal clear explanation about the client's review process for every product or service proposal. Who decides what? How many steps are there before a decision is made? Know this and you can address objections skillfully, dealing with the right people at the right time.
4. Take a sober second look. Step back and look objectively at every qualified lead and make sure you're asking the right qualification questions upfront. Make sure you are operating on facts rather than feelings of what think is true.
5. Be persistent. A sale that seem lost can be found again, but only if you're persistent. Very rarely have I seen any of my clients lose a sale forever. We have one client in Vermont who sells in the dairy industry. She waited 25 years for the customer to say yes.
6. Find out what "no" really means. When a prospect or customer says no to your proposal, understand the meaning behind "no." Ask probing, specific questions to determine why they are resisting or refusing to close.
7. Follow-up rigorously. It's not enough to just follow-up when you feel it's the right time to do so. Schedule all follow-ups in advance, set to a rigorous calendar. Make it a process, not a task. Stick to it like clockwork and your sales will do the same for you.
I watch the marketplace closely to see how sales are changing. These are the key trends I see: selling is far more buyer-driven than it used to be, decision-making processes take longer and it's tougher than ever to attract and sustain the attention of your customers and prospects.
What's just as important, however, is what hasn't changed. Among those winning habits: the mastery of closing your sale every time. As Wayne Gretzky once remarked "You miss 100 per cent of the shots you don't take." Ask for the sales, more often than not you will be surprised at the positive result.
Sales expert Colleen Francis is founder and president of Engage Selling Solutions and the author of the recently released Nonstop Sales Boom (AMACOM) Ms. Francis ensures clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.