marketing+sales: Closing the Sale
Whenever I ask salespeople to rate themselves on their competence in the different parts of the sales process, they invariably rate themselves low at closing the sale. Unfortunately, salespeople who don't close consistently waste a lot of their time, waste their customer's time, and are not nearly as effective as they could be.
Being adept at closing the sale, and every step in the process, is an important key to productivity. So, let's examine the issue of closing, beginning with the first principle: Closing is a process that always ends with your customer's agreement to take action.
As you consider this principle, you'll realize that closing is not just asking for an order, although it certainly is that. It is a process you repeat at every stage of the sales process. In fact, almost every time you interact with a customer, you can close the interaction by asking for some agreement. Whenever your customer agrees to take action, you have closed that step in the sales process.
Let's illustrate this principle with a real life example. Suppose you're talking on the phone to a prospect, and he says, "Sounds interesting. Send me some literature." You say, "OK, I'll put it in the mail today." Have you closed that step of the process?
The answer is no. You have agreed to take action—send some literature—but your prospect hasn't agreed to do anything. Remember, a close always ends with your customer agreeing to take action.
So how do you close in this situation? Your prospect says, "Sounds interesting. Send me some literature." You remark, "I'd be happy to. After you review it, will you discuss it with me over the phone, say next Friday?" If your customer says, "Yes," you've closed. He's agreed to take action.
I recently made a sales call with a salesperson who left the call unclosed. The prospect was definitely interested, but the salesperson never asked for any action. Instead, the salesperson said, "I'll check back with you in a couple of weeks." We walked out of the sales call with no resolution on the issue, and the chance of making the sale significantly diminished.