Becoming the closer
I receive calls every day from salespeople and business owners who believe that the only skill they lack is “how to close.” They’re convinced that’s the one thing missing in their sales process. They think they’re not closing the sale because they lack that magical phrase, slick one-liner or fancy statement that makes it easy.
Very quickly, I discover that closing isn’t the obstacle. It’s only a symptom of a much more serious problem with their sales process. I probe a bit further, listen a bit more and learn that they’re not closing successfully because they’re not opening effectively. It’s not about learning how to “close,” it’s always about mastering how to “sell.”
I can still remember my first sales manager telling me, “If the sale doesn’t start out right, it will never end right.” He always ended our sales meetings with his favorite mantra. “You can’t close what you never opened!”
When working with clients or sales teams, I conduct a thorough intake process to investigate where the wheels fell off in their sales process. When I’m finished probing, I can precisely diagnose what’s happening. Usually I find out that their efforts in the opening stage of the sales process aren’t effective, so the closing efforts in the end become impossible. The issue is the way they begin the process and the build the foundation. That foundation can have gaping holes and massive cracks. If they aren’t patched or fixed they’ll only get worse.
There’s a beginning, middle and an end to your sales process. Many salespeople don’t realize that the first few moments in the process has an enormous impact on whether the sales will take place. Why? Because some salespeople never give much thought to the issues that can instantly destroy trust, rapport and respect. Sales people need to be able to properly understand client’s needs and discuss possible solutions that meet those needs with the relevant products and services before any close can take place. Once this has happened, they can close the sale but not before.
The sales process is also a communication process. What’s needed is an effective sales conversation that involves a series of decisions where both parties agree along the way. Done well and with precision, at each decision point you should be achieving joint understanding, establishing clarity and defining how you’ll proceed. You should be referencing their problems, not pushing your solutions.
In the beginning, ask yourself how are you showing up? How is your attitude, confidence, credibility and likability? Have you discovered your customer’s needs? In the middle, how is preparation, presentation, questioning techniques and the ability to differentiate your value? Do you have reasonable solutions to meet those needs?
Remember, there is no secret sentence, no magical phrase or covert closing technique that will transform you into a closing rock star. That can happen only when you are willing to take your mind off the close and put your focus on mastering the sales process.