Closing in sales is THE most important (and probably the only) thing that really matters if we have a startup or a sales team that needs to sell our product. If we don’t close, we are not selling, hence we are not doing our job. It doesn’t really matter how many leads we generate in a day, how many people we call in one hour, we need to close, and we need to do it now!
Everyone involved in sales need to get a clear understanding of sales and the art of closing.
Sales doesn’t happen without closing. Closing doesn’t happen without understanding sales.
You might think that when I talk about closing, I am referring exclusively to getting that deal signed. No, that’s not only what I am talking about. Of course, signing a contract is going to contribute to our success, but before we get there, we need to understand the art behind it.
Everyday as salesmen, we get different responses from our prospects, some sound like these:
- “I need more time to make a decision…”
- “I have to talk with my manager…”
- “Give me a call next month…”
- “Send me more information via email…”
We hear these all the time and as good salesmen, we write down a note in our CRM system and move on to the next lead. After all we’ve got a response and we think there’s a next step agreed. But we are not listening. We are just ignoring the reality. We received a “no” masked as a polite excuse, but we think it as an opportunity.
Take a moment, stop and think about it as if you were on the other side of the phone. How many times have you clearly said no to someone trying to sell you something? Rarely. We don’t like to be rude or hurt the other person’s feeling. We come up with a nice excuse and hope that they will never call or bother us again. We act just like our prospects on a daily basis, but when we are on the selling side, we seem to forget about it. Why?
Salesmen are scared to lose opportunities. We are scared to lose a sale. We need to hit targets on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis, we can’t let anyone run away. We live under constant stress. Our boss is on our neck or our business is about to close down if we don’t close that deal. If we send out 10 proposals,however, we feel a step closer to success. But we are wrong.
The art of closing is about understanding our prospect and their messages. We either close the sale or close the opportunity (and move on). Let’s not waste our valuable time chasing excuses. If our prospect is telling us to call him the next quarter and he doesn’t give us a (reasonable) motivation for that, is the “no” going to feel less painful in 2 months? I doubt.
The first thing we should do when we hear a “no” in any of its form is to ask a very simple question: Why?
“Could you please let me know why are we postponing this decision and we can’t agree on the next steps right now?”
By asking the right question at the right time, we are able to understand whether the prospect is really interested in talking with us at a later stage or he is just trying to push us gently away. If we chase the wrong opportunity, we might be losing on the right ones! As a salesman, it’s tough to say goodbye to a lead, but sometimes this can actually benefit our overall productivity and results.
It’s also important to understand that not everything that sounds like an excuse it’s actually a “no”. It’s our job to find out what’s behind this initial rejection. If this is genuine, for example the prospect has no left-over budget to test with us or they have an annual contract with another vendor, let’s proceed by establishing clear next steps and set a timeline with our prospect. Let him propose a time and a date, he will feel committed to it.
To make sure we get the most out of every interaction with our prospects we should follow these steps:
- Understand our prospect’s reasons for delaying the decision
- Mutually agree on a timeline for the next steps
- Don’t chase an excuse by don’t asking “why”
If we do these, we will be more successful and focus only on those prospects that are worth chasing.