I once asked attendees this question during a sales workshop: “What is the most stressful part of the sales process?”
It’s a question I periodically ask sales professionals.
And regardless of industry, the answers are always the same. Approximately 40 percent of the attendees are most stressed out by initial prospecting calls and another 40 percent say, “the close,” asking a prospective customer for their business. (The remaining 20 percent identify a variety of miscellaneous things).
Why do so many sales professionals dread these two things?
There are a lot of reasons:
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of failing
- Not wanting to sound “pushy”
- Fear of sounding stupid or ill prepared
- Inferiority complex – about yourself, your company or your product
- Unsure of the timing – fear of losing what appears to be a sure-fire sale if you ask for the business at the wrong time
What’s a Salesperson to Do?
Be Obsessed with Value
The most fundamental element in closing any sale is to determine what the prospective client truly values without ever assuming. The salesperson may have more product knowledge than the prospective customer but that doesn’t mean the salesperson has the ability to read clients’ minds. You need to ask probing questions and listen deeply to the answers. If you do this properly, and take the necessary amount of time, you will know just what your prospect wants. When you make your pitch, customize it to exactly what the prospect told you. Value selling does more to ensure a successful closing than anything else you can do.
Remember the old sales axiom, “ABC – Always Be Closing?” It means you’re always looking for an opportunity to jump to the end and sign up the prospect. Flush “ABC” from your mind! Sure, it’s a good idea to keep your eye on the prize, but instead of crouching ready to pounce on a close, focus on the next step in the process. Don’t rush things. In this day and age, buyers – especially sophisticated ones – don’t take kindly to being pressured.
Just keep working the prospect through all the steps in the selling process in the proper order with adequate time at each step and you will close more than your fair share of deals.
Collect Mini Closes
A sales close is basically getting the prospective client to make a commitment. The “big” close is the final commitment at the end, which is the commitment to buy. But closing also involves lots of little commitments leading up to the big commitment. These are commitments to spend time with you, to listen to you, to consider what you offer, to admit they need to make a change/purchase, etc.
Each time you convince your prospect to make a little commitment during the process, you are moving him or her a little closer to the final commitment and your goal of a signed deal.
Eventually You Have to Ask
After you do all the work leading up to the final close, it’s time to ask for the order. Unfortunately, this part can make salespeople feel nervous. After all, you have put so much effort into making the sale that you fear getting your feelings hurt and your confidence bruised. Plus, you may have already spent the commission!
Those are normal fears, but when the time is right, just ask the question! The good news is you don’t need a cheesy gimmick to seal the deal. You know what the client cares about and you know you have an ideal product solution, so all you have to say is, “Let’s get you started” or “Are you ready to do this?” Avoid clichés like the age-old one I like to make fun of: “What will it take to get you in this car today!”
In the end, the main requirement to being a good closer is to do the right things earlier in the process. In other words, if you do a good job of listening, building trust and doing your best to customize your products and services to the client’s needs and wants, the closing should actually be a mere formality