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Andi Gray: The art of closing the deal

Andi GrayWe have lots of activities but not enough closes. Lots of leads, just have to light a fire to get going faster to turn leads into work. How do we do that?

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Good news is you have opportunities coming in the door. Should you be closing the leads you have in front of you? Do you understand your clients’ needs and how well are you doing at conveying that understanding? Is this the right time for your client to buy and what can you do about adjusting the timing?

One of the things that holds back a lot of sales organizations is not having enough leads to work with. Sounds like that’s not the problem here. Which is terrific. A strong pipeline of opportunities coming to the sales organization is like gold waiting to be mined.

Now help your sales organization figure out how to tell the difference between good leads and not-so-good ones, between leads that should close now and ones that shouldn’t be counted on to close anytime soon. Look for deals that are delayed but can benefit from nurturing until they’re ready to close.

Start with a script of questions that your salespeople are required to put to prospects and to which they are to get answers:

  • What’s your ideal time frame and why that timing?
  • How much depends on this sale?
  • How will any changes in customer needs, the economy or your company’s situation impact your decision to purchase?
  • Who else needs to be involved in decision-making on this purchase, how will they get involved and what other commitments on their plates might get in the way of them paying attention to this deal?
  • If you saw a way to move up the timetable on making this purchase, what would motivate you to do that?
  • How long before the lack of making this purchase impacts the company’s performance and profits?

Understanding the client’s urgency and necessity related to making a purchase is critical. If it’s not urgent and not necessary; the salespeople have a lot more work to do to keep this deal front and center and move it to close.

Attempt to proceed to close by asking how well the solution fits the client’s needs and listening carefully to any objections. Make sure everyone involved in the decision sees it the same way as your contact, so that you don’t get misled by one person who doesn’t represent the views of the buying group overall. Deal with objections thoroughly and carefully, but also be alert for deals that are more wishes than reality. Sometimes it’s more important to walk away and put time in elsewhere on another deal that shows more promise.

Deals that are urgent in the clients’ eyes should get closed right away. Don’t make things complicated. Avoid throwing up roadblocks or creating obstacles to closing. Once the client admits there’s a fit, ask for the sale.

On each outstanding deal, ask your salespeople to find out if the client’s timeline matches their estimate of when the deal might close. Have them check if there’s any misunderstanding on timing. Tell your sales folks to look for any mismatch in expectations about whether and how this deal might, or might not, happen. Encourage your salespeople to get the truth about what’s happening, even if it’s not good news.

Put every opportunity into a spreadsheet where you can keep track of all of your outstanding opportunities. Look at which salespeople are good at forecasting, which salespeople are good at setting accurate close dates and which ones are overpromising and underdelivering. Put your focus on helping them to better understand what’s going on and how to either close more deals or let go of ones that have little or no hope.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION:“The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the Ten Commitments That Drive Sales” by Anthony Iannarino.  

Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., StrategyLeaders.com, a business-consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Have a question for AskAndi? Wondering how Strategy Leaders can help your business thrive? Call or email for a free consultation and diagnostics at 877-238-3535 or AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Check out our library of business advice articles at AskAndi.com.

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