(By Spike Santee) In the world of selling, the close is the glamor phase of the selling process. That’s when you, as a salesperson, cash in on your efforts. It’s payday! There are countless books and tapes on how to close the sale. But there are four very simple ways, when used together, that can dramatically increase your closing ratio.
To increase your closing ratio, you must return to the beginning of the sales process. The appointment is every bit as important as the close. When you fail to close a sale, you can trace the origins of the failed close to the early stages of the selling process. By focusing your efforts and your training on the beginning stages, you will be more effective and close more sales for higher commissions.
The First Key to increasing your closing ratio is to ensure you are talking to all the decision-makers in a coordinated effort. You should not begin the selling process until you have clearly identified your prospect’s decision-making process. Who can say “yes”? Can you gain access to that decision-maker? Can you get an appointment with them to discuss business? This is the first fork in the road. If you cannot identify and gain access to the real decision-maker, you have a decision to make. Do you passively email a presentation in the blind, hoping that they say yes, or do you simply move on to a better prospect? You will close more sales if you only focus on prospects you can reach and communicate with.
The Second Key to increasing your closing ratio is to determine if the prospect has a budget for your proposal. Too much sales effort is wasted in presenting to people who don’t have a budget for advertising. Yes, every business should have a budget for advertising, that’s not the point here. Is your prospect a healthy business with cash flow from which to fund an advertising proposal, or would they have to take the money out of their own paycheck to pay for it? If the business has insufficient cash flow for advertising, that is a pretty good sign of an underfunded, poorly performing business that cannot benefit from your services. Yes, perhaps they could buy a few weeks of advertising, but that is hardly enough to help change the trajectory of that business. You will close more sales if you realize you can’t save a failing business and focus more on a business that has a fighting chance to grow.
The Third Key to increasing your closing ratio is to determine if your prospect has a commitment to advertising. Can you identify an area where more customers could help the business, and can you persuade the prospect to make a commitment to follow through with your proposal? This involves gaining some basic financial information from your prospect about customer count, average ticket price, average gross profit margins, and historical sales data. You need this information to establish a value for your proposal. You need to be able to convincingly connect-the-dots, financially, to demonstrate that your proposal for advertising will be money well spent. You will close more sales when you can effectively build a reasonable expectation for a return on investment.
The Fourth Key to increasing your closing ratio is to establish a deadline for a decision. Can you get a decision within a reasonable about of time? Many good sales efforts fall apart when it comes time for a decision because the proposal and presentation were lacking, or the salesperson is afraid to ask for the order. The close is a simple yes or no question, “Would you like to do this?” If the prospect says no, you ask why not? You follow up with another question, “If I could demonstrate to you that we can overcome your concern, would you want to do it then”? If they are saying no to your closing question, you missed an important step along the way that needed an answer long before presentation time.
“I have to think about it” is really a “no.” If you identified a real need and proposed a viable solution with a realistic return on investment, why would the prospect need to think about it?
The best way to increase your closing ratio is to establish what we call at My Radio School Dot Com the ABCs of a Qualified Presentation. Can you meet with ALL of the decision-makers at one time? Have you established if there is a BUDGET for your proposal? Can you establish if there is a COMMITMENT for your proposal? And can you get a DECISION on your proposal is a reasonable amount of time?
Focus on your ABCs and you will increase your closing ratio!
Spike Santee is the author of “The Four Keys to Advertising Success” and the president of SpikeSantee.com. Contact Spike at (785) 230-5350.