If you’re in sales, you know it’s extremely important to close deals, right? That’s kind of an easy question, but I ask it because it seems as though many salespeople think their job is to have a lot of business in “pending.” When I ask salespeople how things are going, what I typically hear is, “I got a lot out there.” And while I get why having “a lot out there” feels good, it’s not the most important thing, and it may or may not be a good indicator of the customers you will earn. Closing the deal, earning customers and helping them to have success, is far more important.
So how good are you at earning new clients and closing sales? How often does what you have in pending actually close? If you don’t know or you are thinking you would like to improve your closing ratio, I’d like to suggest you apply the following best practices. I encourage you to stop guessing and study what works. A little less gut and a lot more data will pay off.
- Is the client or prospect ready for your proposal? Did they agree that the challenge or need you are focused on is the most important? Have they been involved in the creation of the idea you are now presenting? Have you had the conversation about investment levels? All of these are important conversations to have before the presentation of the final proposal — and if you have not had the discussions in advance, you are setting yourself up for a proposal that is destined to go straight into the pending pile. The best salespeople are having these important conversations in advance and delivering a final proposal that is spot-on, that is not only exactly what the customer needs, but what they were expecting to see. At the Center for Sales Strategy, we call this sales strategy a “No Surprise” proposal, and the results from sellers who use this concept are absolutely fantastic.
- Have you thought about why the prospect or client would say no? Most salespeople are filled with optimism. Let’s face it, with as many no’s as salespeople hear every day, there has to be a good dose of optimism in there if they are going to keep coming back. Well, the best of the best always think well in advance of the final proposal about why the prospect or client might say no. Make a list of every reason you can think of that this particular proposal could be met with a no, or even a “Let me think about it,” and then troubleshoot for that in advance. Take the time prior to making the final presentation to address those reasons, so that when the time comes for you to present, the client or prospect is delighted and ready to say yes.
- Do all of the little things perfectly. Here is a short list of the type of things that you need to double- and triple-check before marching out the door with your proposal. Make sure there are no typos or grammar mistakes. Make enough copies for everyone who will need one. Make sure you get their titles correct. And make sure you refer to the client or prospect’s company correctly in the proposals. This list could go on and on, but the point here is, don’t miss the details. The detail work is what gives clients and prospects confidence that follow through on what they are buying will be handled with care.
- Move things along, and don’t let them linger. The best sellers move things along at a good pace. They don’t rush the sale, but they also won’t let it stall out and get cold. Try removing the words “I’ll get back to you same time next week” from your sales vocabulary. If you have done great work up front, uncovered true needs and challenges, and have great ideas that could help solve their problems, making them wait a week is just not right. Use a professional pace to show that you are serious and can truly help them to grow their business.
So now it’s your turn: What are some of your best practices for closing more sales?