Tag Archives: closing

When Is It Time to Ask for the Sale?

By Jeff Beals

One of my all-time favorite “sales” quotes came from a man known simply as “The Greatest,” the late boxing champ Muhammad Ali: “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

At the end of a boxing match, spectators see the glory and adoration of a victorious champion. They don’t see what it takes to get there. They don’t see the hard work or the blood, sweat and tears. It’s the investment of time, effort and discipline leading up to the fight that determines who wins.

The same can be said of the selling process.

Too many people believe that success in sales comes down to the closing, a magical time when a slick salesperson utters the most eloquent, carefully chosen words, thus dazzling a spellbound buyer into helplessly making a purchase.

That’s simply false.

Just as Ali won fights long before he stepped into the ring, sales are made long before closing time.

Sales reps worry too much about closing because they don’t realize it’s supposed to be a foregone conclusion. Follow the proper steps, and the close is an anticlimactic formality, just one step in a long process.

If you’re waiting until the close to win the deal, you’ve already lost. Good closers start at the beginning.

Here are five things you can do throughout the sales process to make closing a breeze:

Lead 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 sales- person 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.

Miniature Closes

Remember that closing involves a series of small commitments before you get the big commitment to buy.  These little commitments are sometimes referred to as “miniature closes.” By simply agreeing to meet you, a prospect makes a mini commitment, and that’s a mini close for you.

Instead of crouching ready to pounce on a close, focus on the next step in the process (the next small commitment.)  Each time you get one of these commitments, you’re a little closer to the end prize.

Just keep working the prospect through all the steps in the selling process in the proper order, with adequate time at each step.

Storytelling and Humor

Stories are a powerful selling tool. An opening story when you first meet a prospect can break the ice. A compelling story during your pitch can peak a prospect’s curiosity. A carefully selected story can effectively answer an objection. A motivational story about a previous client near the end of the presentation is a nice way to bring the whole process to a close.

Stories disarm and reassure people, allowing them to picture how great life is using your product or service. In the sales world, stories trump data and facts.

Humor helps as well. Making the process a little lighthearted can have many of the same benefits of storytelling. We all like to laugh—it’s like exercise but less painful. It releases endorphins into your brain, making you feel better about moving forward.

Ask for the Order

After you gone through all the steps, it’s time to ask for the order. Even though the close is a formality, a foregone conclusion if you’ve done everything right so far, the typical clients will still wait for you to tell them it’s time to move forward.  They see you as the leader of the transaction, so they will rely on you to tell them it’s okay to make the purchase.

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 “What will it take to get you in this car today?”

Know What’s Next

I once watched an outstanding pool player demonstrate his craft at a sports bar.  The guy could sink unbelievable shots, but his best skill was setting up the next shot at the end of the current one.

Sales pros need to think the same way: each sale should set up the next.  No sale is made in a vacuum. Keep gathering information and building the relationship. You want a lifetime of sales from your customers, not just one.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 new, top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300

What Do Sales Reps Fear the Most?

By Jeff Beals

Which part of the sales process is most difficult for you?  Which part intimidates you?

Hubspot.com set out to determine which part of the sales process causes reps to struggle the most, and the survey results were quite interesting:

Prospecting 42%

Closing 36%

Qualifying 22%

That is the exact order I would have predicted before I even read the study.  The only thing that surprised me was that prospecting didn’t have an even higher percentage.

When speaking to sales reps, I sometimes like to conduct an unscientific survey of the audience.  With a show of hands, I ask them which part of the process is their least favorite.  “Prospecting,” usually gets 60 to 70 percent of the votes.

Why is prospecting more intimidating and less enjoyed than other parts of the sales process?

Well, to start, let’s look at the definition of prospecting:

“Prospecting is the art of interrupting someone when they don’t expect to hear from you in order to provide them with something they need that they might not yet know.”

The key word in that definition of “interrupting.”  Most people are uncomfortable interrupting someone especially when it’s a stranger who is not expecting to hear from you.

And we know that when you interrupt someone, you are risking rejection, one of humanity’s biggest phobias.  If you research, “top 10 phobias,” the fear of rejection pops up frequently.

Most people HATE being rejected.  As social beings, the avoidance of rejection is a powerful motivation.  It’s hard-wired into our DNA.  It’s a matter of survival, because people need other people to survive. That was especially important in prehistoric times when primitive humans banded together to raise food and protect themselves from external threats.  If you didn’t fit into the tribe, you were left on your own to fend off predators.

Even though we have evolved into sophisticated beings with technology at our fingertips and complicated social structures to protect us, it’s hard to shake our ancient traits.  While a fear of rejection helped us to survive 5,000 years ago, it can hinder us in today’s competitive business environment.

How can you overcome your natural predilection to avoid rejection at all costs and push forward as an effective prospector?

Envision success – Like an athlete preparing for a big game, you have a higher likelihood of succeeding if you picture yourself doing well in advance.

Keep it in perspective – It’s not the end of the world when you get rejected.  It may have meant life and death in primeval times, but in the 21st century, it’s just a speed bump.  You will live to fight another battle.

Externalize it – For most of us, it’s normal to take rejection personally, which means we internalize it.  Try to see the rejection as something outside of you, external to your life and your personality.  A sales rejection is NOT an indictment of your personality.

No self-fulfilling prophecies – Avoid a defeatist attitude.  To avoid being disappointed, some sales practitioners start to assume the prospect won’t pan out before even contacting him.  That can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, meaning you’ve lost before you even begin.

Build a big list – Make sure you have a large number of leads in your pipeline, so you’re not too dependent on any one lead or prospect.  Rejection hurts more when you don’t have any other prospects to take the rejector’s place.  Plus, too few leads make you desperate.

The right kind of leads – Study who you have been targeting in the past.  Is it really the right group of people?  Should you be targeting a different prospect profile?

Have a plan – Those sales reps who have a well-developed personal plan for prospecting tend to fear rejection less.  A good plan means you have a dedicated prospecting time and a step-by-step system you follow when engaging new cold prospects.

Persistence – Because most prospects are so busy, it is now taking about 9 attempts to get a cold prospect to return your call or email.  However, most sales reps give up after 2.5 attempts.  If you give up too soon, your pipeline will be too skinny, which makes you too dependent on too few leads.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“You brought great value to our event. The workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

(402) 637-9300

 

 

Perpetual Prospecting Is the Key to Beating the Sales Cycle

By Jeff Beals

Do you invest in the stock market?

If so, you’re probably aware of the constant waxing and waning that characterizes the life cycle of the stock market. What goes up eventually goes down and what goes down eventually goes up.

If you’re a long-term investor, you tend to wait out the market cycles and instead count on the long-term growth that has always happened in the market over extended periods of time.  If you’re a short-term investor, you may be playing the cycle, hoping to buy or sell at precisely the right time.

Either way, the stock market goes up and down.  When markets are optimistic, investors begin to feel enthusiasm, then exhilaration.  Eventually, it starts to feel like you’re invincible, that every investment you make pays off.  That false belief compels some investors to make reckless decisions and take questionable risks.

Just as the stock market reaches its feverish peak, the bull market ends.  Most people don’t realize it right away, and investors often go through a period of denial.  But eventually pessimism sets in, which leads to panic and then despair: the bear market.  Of course, when people are depressed at the bottom of the trough, that’s when things slowly start to trend upwards, starting the whole cycle over again.

Sales practitioners tend to go through cycles quite analogous to the stock market: highs and lows, peaks and valleys.

At the peak of the prospecting cycle, the “bull market,” you have so many deals to close and so much easy business that you’re tempted to put off prospecting activities.  Of course, that eventually leads to an empty pipeline.  When you realize you have no prospects in the pipe, you prospect like crazy, which eventually leads to another up cycle.

If your personal sales cycle is too volatile, you are putting yourself under a great deal of stress.  There’s one secret to evening out your cycle while keeping your revenue going up each year: perpetual prospecting.

Prospecting is the key. It’s the reason 20 percent of sales reps do 80 percent of the business (In some companies, it might be closer to 10/90).  It’s the reason why some sales reps do well even during a recession.  Prospecting separates the good from the great.

I like to define prospecting as “the art of interrupting someone when they don’t expect to hear from you in order to provide them with something they need that they might not yet know.”

As that definition implies, there is one aggressive part of prospecting: “interrupting someone.”  But the rest of the definition implies that sales reps are doing prospects a favor by introducing them to something important: valuable products and services.

If you want to be a better prospector, and consequently make more money, here are five quick pieces of advice:

Prospect Life Your Life Depends on It

Your sales life DOES depend on prospecting.  Ideally, you should consider prospecting to be a mindset, a way of life and a fundamental part of your company’s culture.  When things are going well and you’re closing so many sales you can hardly keep up, you still need to carve out at least a little time for prospecting.

Be an Opportunity Detective

Turn over every rock and scratch the dirt.  Opportunities are often buried layers below the surface.  Keep in mind that every person you meet could potentially lead to business and that prospects can theoretically be found any place you go.

Apply Discipline to Your Prospecting

In order to make sure you prospect perpetually, block out a couple periods of time each week that are reserved for prospecting activities: telephone calls, personalized direct emails or showing up at prospects’ offices.  This time should be a non-negotiable calendar commitment not to be interrupted or rescheduled unless it’s an emergency.

Be Obsessed with Prospect Value

When you engage cold prospects, you want to talk about things you believe they value instead of talking about you or your company.  For instance, too many sales reps start prospecting messages with statements such as: “We’ve been in business since 1910,” or “We offer a full suite of IT solutions.”  Instead, research the prospect before contacting them and talk about what they value and then be ready to explain how the outcomes/results of your products and services satisfy those values.

Plan Ahead

Nobody plans to fail but sales practitioners regularly fail to plan.  I recommend you map out your weekly prospecting plan on Sunday evening or early Monday morning.  Decide who you’re going to contact and research those prospects ahead of time.  That way, when you get to your dedicated prospecting time, you’re focused on communicating instead of digging through websites and looking up LinkedIn profiles.  If you do anything other than communicating during dedicated prospecting time blocks, you’re wasting the prime calling hours.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“You brought great value to our event. The workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

(402) 637-9300