marketing+sales: Closing the Sale
Understanding this principle is crucial to closing the sale. Many of the offers and proposals you work on are complicated, requiring a number of steps in the sales process. As you proceed, you continually ask for some kind of action in order to keep the project moving forward. When it comes time for the final decision—the agreement to buy—that decision is often the natural, logical conclusion of the decisions that led up to it.
Closing, then, is not an isolated event that only happens at the end of the sales process. Rather, it's a routine part of every sales call. That leads us to the second principle of closing the sale: Every interaction can and should be closed. In other words, at the conclusion of every interaction with your customer, ask for an agreement on the action he or she will take.
The telephone conversation described earlier is a good example of closing the interaction. Here's another common situation. Let's say you've discussed a product or proposal with your customer. He says, "It looks interesting, but we're not ready for that now." You might then say, "When do you think will be a good time?" Your customer responds, "Probably around June." You might say, "OK, I'll make a note to discuss it with you then." At this point, you haven't closed the interaction or resolved the issue.
Let's take it a step further. Suppose you now say, "At that point in time, will you spend a half hour with me to discuss it in detail?" You have now attempted to close the interaction by getting an agreement for action on the part of your customer. You've put the issue on the table, and you are attempting to resolve it.
But suppose your customer says, "No, probably not." You now have a decision to make. Should you probe the reasons why, or should you accept his decision? Let's say you choose the latter. The conversation still had value to you, in that you learned that this proposal isn't going to fly in this account. The early "no" saved you months chasing something that wasn't going to happen. That's the value in resolving the issue.