I came across a very interesting article by Geoffery James on closing a sale in which he breaks down the process or in fact gives structure to the mystery of closing a sale.
Here are the six steps, as described in the post above.
- STEP #1: Ignore the ABC Strategy
More often than not, the ABC (Always Be Closing) strategy has been adopted as if from the Sales Bible. Very rarely do sales people understand how put off their clients would be by being pressurized to take the deal. The last thing you’d want is to make the client avoid doing business with you.
Its important to modify and use ABC so that so you do “always remember to close” – close for the next step, close for how long the evaluation will take, close for who along with you needs to be involved, close for budget info, process, availability, close for mutually agreed to exploration points, analysis points, specific basis for evaluation, specific basis for deciding to purchase.
- STEP #2: Cultivate the Right Mindset
I believe that to be truly successful in any role that you are in, you have just got to be proactive and think out of the box. This is one of my favorites. Geoffery quoted “The clock has only one time – right now!”,which is so true when you want to win a deal.You have to be persistent.
Simple things such as remembering to send a tailored follow up letter or email to the customer within one day of the meeting would make it a deal or no deal. But to be a good closer, you have to back off when you have to. For example, when you realize that by going through with this deal, you would be alienating the client or damaging the relationship or company reputation, it’s best not to go for closure.
- STEP #3: Set an Objective for Every Meeting
We’ve all read and heard about setting SMART objectives. Yes that’s it Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. But in the world of business development, its shouldn’t be simply achievable but “Aggressively Achievable”. But you can’t be overly aggressive either. You can’t simply set an objective such as “I will close the deal today” when its a multi million dollar deal with multiple decision makers involved!
- STEP #4: Constantly Check If You’re On Target
At all times during the sales cycle and during the meeting, you have to constantly keep track of where you are headed. The basic selling process is identifying the customer’s objectives, strategy, decision process, time frames etc. You should understand these aspects well to customize and tailor your product/ solution to satisfy those needs.
The ‘checking process’ : always ask open ended and non-leading questions which will help you get a feedback from the client on what you’ve just said and also to gauge the client’s response.
Bad Qn: Do you agree? / Does that make sense to you?
Good Qn: What do you think? / How does that sound to you?
Unlike leading questions, checking questions encourage the customer to provide you with frank, vital information. Example:
You: “We have a first rate delivery capability in all key markets.” (The salesperson did not check after expressing this view.”)
Prospect: “How do you handle invoicing?”
Note that in the example above, the conversation has moved on and you have no idea whether the customer agrees or disagrees with the “first rate delivery” assertion.
You: “We have a first rate delivery capability in all key markets. Do you think that might be useful?”
Prospect: “I’m concerned you can’t meet our global needs.”
You: “I understand that you have global needs. Why do you feel we may not be able to meet them?”
Prospect: “We want feet on the street and you don’t have international offices.”
You: “It is important to have people deployed internationally. For that reason, we have partnerships with the top companies in regions where we don’t have our own offices. Would that address your concern?”
Prospect: “It might, providing you can invoice centrally.”
Note that in the example above, you are now learning what the prospect thinks and repositioning your company’s capability in order to build toward the eventual close.
Geoffery suggests that if you do the “checking” process right, the client will preemptively close the sale by saying something like “When do we start ?”.
- STEP #5: Summarize, Then Make a Final Check
After all the product/ solution awareness and checking process, comes the closure. If the client hasn’t preemptively closed it, you’ve got to make the move. Here’s the mechanics of the close:
First, give the customer a concise, powerful summary that reiterates the benefits of your products or services. Once you’ve done this, make one final check – not for understanding but for agreement. Example:
You: “Our worldwide service capability will allow your employees access anywhere they travel, at a cost that’s significantly less than you’re spending today. How does that meet your objective?”
Now you’ll either get a green / red light. If there are any objections, it will come up. Handle it and then go for the closure again.
- STEP #6: Ask for the Business
The most important of all steps – ask for what you are there for – the business!
You: “We are ready to start. Will you give us the go-ahead?”
If the customer declines, acknowledge that fact to the customer and then find out why. As appropriate, make a second effort. Regardless of whether you actually closed, end the meeting with confidence, energy, and rapport to make a positive last impression.
Thank the client for the business or reinforce the desire to work with the client.
Nevertheless, DO NOT FORGET to follow up with the client immediately.