Some salespeople think of closing as a one-step process leading to a final commitment. Closing is actually more complex than that. It happens in stages.
Too far, too fast
While it’s true that you can go too far, too fast when closing a sale, fear can keep you from going far enough, fast enough. It’s a balancing act. You can’t try to shove the sale down the prospect’s throat, but you can’t be so soft that you continually avoid asking for the commitments you need to close the sale.
To get commitments from your prospects, try to earn the right to ask for them. If you have created value for your prospects and can explain the importance of moving forward together, then you have a right to ask for commitments. But you must do the necessary work before asking.
Here are four to help you create value:
- Help the prospect understand the current problem as well as the need for change.
- Once prospects understand the need for change, help them decide what they require to move forward to a better future state.
- When they evaluate their options, help them understand and select from the range of available choices. Clearly differentiate your offering from your competition.
- When prospects are trying to make informed decisions, help resolve their concerns and mitigate their risks.
Here are 10 commitments you should try to reach with a prospect before attempting to close the sale:
- You can’t create opportunities unless your prospects commit to giving you necessary time. This can sometimes be the most difficult commitment to obtain, because prospects are busy or say they are satisfied with present suppliers.
- As you work through the discovery phase, your prospects are making their own discoveries about you. Try to get an early commitment to explain the ways you can together to make changes and improvements.
- If your prospects aren’t committed to change, they are leads, not opportunities. Neither their needs, their budgetary constraints or the value you can create means anything if they’re not open to change.
- You may have the best solutions, but until prospects add their ideas to them, those solutions are “yours” not “theirs.” Until you change the solutions from “yours” to “ours” you aren’t where you need to be. Your prospects have ideas about what they need and how they need it delivered. Ask them to collaborate with you in building solutions.
- Winning a large, complex opportunity requires commitment from your prospect, as well as from your company. Try to get a commitment to meet with all the people involved in the buying decision.
- Your prospect must commit to investing the time, energy and money necessary to produce the desired results. If he or she could produce the same results without purchasing your product or service, they would already be doing so.
- All the prospects involved in making the buying decision must review the solution you propose so you can receive their input and have an opportunity to make adjustments. Ask for this commitment to review once you’re certain that your solution matches your prospect’s needs.
- Try to get a commitment from your prospect to give feedback on your presentation so you can resolve any anxieties that may still be present. Such concerns may be resolved by providing proof, walking the prospect through an implementation plan, or simply by spending time answering questions.
- Decision. Sometimes referred to as the “close” this commitment moves the sales forward. Without it, you get nowhere. When you know you have created value during every step of the sales process, you can naturally and comfortably ask for the business.
- At this point you’ve made the sale and now you must help your prospect execute and ensure that they get the outcomes you’ve promised them. This means you must ask them to take the necessary actions that enable you to execute throughout a long-term relationship.
Adapted from: The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, by Anthony Iannarino, an international keynote speaker and workshop facilitator, sales leader, and sought-after sales coach. He speaks to sales organizations throughout the world and teaches at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership.