This Expert's Corner Article on secrets of closing the sale is brought to you by Jonny Cooper, Founder of The Success Party. To be considered for contributions towards future Expert's Corner articles please apply here
Salespeople are often misunderstood. Some just appear to be naturals. You know the kind – they could sell sand to Arabs, ice to Eskimos and other such nonsense. Trouble is, these brash, loud fast-talkers rarely actually make good salespeople. It’s just a myth.
In fact, the best salespeople are calm, considered, capable communicators who listen more than they talk, ask more than they tell and collaborate more than they dominate.
Other distinguishing features often include high intelligence, low ego and a passion for reading and learning.
Just like you then!
How Do You Plan Out A Sales Process?
So, when you approach a potential client with all that in your armoury, how do you plan out a sales process?
More importantly, where does the close fit in?
Should you qualify the hell out of the call when you walk through the door, digging around for signs that they’re keen, loaded and ready to buy before you even open your briefcase?
Or should you make sure they love what you’re selling with a flawless presentation before you hit ’em hard and fast right at the end with an offer they can’t refuse?
Both of those MIGHT work, sometimes. But they’re both HARD work.
Here’s The Easy Way To Close A Sale:
Let the prospect close the deal for you, so you don’t have to... What?! How is that even possible?
Why on earth would a customer sell himself the thing you so desperately want him to buy?
You don’t have to close the deal if you set the sales call up so efficiently and effectively that the only logical outcome is for the customer to say yes.
So, here are the Three Secrets of Setting Up A Sales Call So You Never Have To Close A Deal Again™:
Closing The Sale - Secret Number One: Choose your battles
They say you can’t win ‘em all. I say, don’t even fight the ones you can’t win. Set up your sales call using the MAN principle to pre-qualify your prospect. No, it’s not sexist, it’s an acronym for Means, Authority and Need. Let’s open it up...
1. MEANS: Can the prospect afford what you’re selling them?
It’s easy to look at the size and financial performance of a business and take a pretty good stab at this.
Individuals less so, (we’re pretty good at acting richer or poorer than we are) but still, follow your instincts.
Bluntly, If they ain’t got the loot, you ain’t got the time.
2. AUTHORITY: Are you talking to the decision maker?
If there's more than one, you need to strike up a relationship with all of them! Here are some authority howlers I’ve made over the years:
Selling home improvements I used to get “I need to talk to my husband/wife/friend/cat” at the end of what I assumed was a wonderful sales pitch.
The owner of a finance company said “I’ll have to ask my dad” before he signed for an office machine I thought I’d sold him.
The Managing Director of a UK aerospace business told me he had to get a cleaning contract approved by their German Head Office! I didn’t even know they had one…
So, when the call’s being arranged, just say:
“Are you solely responsible for the decision to purchase, or is there anyone else who we need to meet with you?” That way, you can rearrange if needed to include all parties.
3. NEED: Do they actually have a requirement for your amazing product?
Be honest, whatever you’re selling isn’t for everyone. That applies universally. Even if you’re selling an electricity supply, you won’t get a deal with a dropout who lives in a tree house, or a sustainable energy fanatic who wants to live off solar panels and stiff breezes.
Here are some tips for finding out if you’re lighting their fire:
If you’re selling web/design/software services, say “I was wondering where you are right now in your update cycle and how we can get involved to help you”
If you’re selling consumables, a great question is “What kind of quantities are you buying currently?” If the answer’s “we aren’t” you know what comes next… If you’re selling something new to them, ask them to imagine how they’d use it. If they can’t, they probably don’t need it.
Remember, the MAN test is applied by the person MAKING THE APPOINTMENT, not the salesperson, unless you happen to do both.
So, now you know they can afford it, can decide whether to buy it and they actually need it, all you have to do is show up and get them to close the deal.
Closing The Sale - Secret Number Two: Understand Trial Closes
From the first interaction, be their friend, ally and coach. You understand their feelings, their needs and their wants. You feel their pain and are equally desperate to ease it.
In between asking questions, listening intently and showing them your clear solutions to their problems, you should build your whole approach around carefully weighted trial closes, designed to check progress, confirm buy-in and to give you a chance to overcome objections before it’s too late.
Here are some examples:
- “Is this the kind of thing we need to achieve?”
- “Does this do what we want?”
- “What would be the value of a solution like this?”
- “Is there anything else needs to happen before we’re in business?”
- “How do you see us actually using this?”
- “If we could do all that, shall we go ahead and get it set up?”
Note the “we” pronoun rather than “you” or “I”. It’s a subtle but massively important difference which shows you’re around the table with them, not across the table from them. By the time you’ve check-listed a dozen-or-so trial closes, there are literally no reasons why the customer isn’t going to buy, and right now.
Closing The Sale - Secret Number Three: Let Them Ask For It
You might imagine it takes some nerve to be determined NOT to ask directly for the sale, but once you’ve tried it a couple of times you’ll start to realise how much scarier it was before, when you always sweated out the Scariest Words In Sales, “Shall we go ahead with that then?”
Because your trial closes removed any potential objections based on price, procrastination and need, the solution they have in their hands isn’t a product you’re trying to sell them, it's an urgent lifeline they’ve helped design.
Here are some customer-led closes I’ve enjoyed recently:
- So, how quickly can we take delivery?
- I’m running short on time, can we just get the paperwork done please?
- We’d be crazy not to do it then, wouldn’t we? (Husband to wife and co-director)
- Is there anything else you think we need to add to it now?
- Will we see you again after today?
It’s all such great fun, and so rewarding.
More importantly, letting the customer close himself will massively improve conversions and Earn You More Money.
What’s not to love?
About the Author:
Jonny Cooper is Founder of The Success Party, the leading academy for creating recurring revenue business and turning your one-off customers into raving subscribers.