By Geoffrey James | March 4, 2010
This is the post you’ve been waiting for. It explains, in 6 easy steps, how to close either a B2B or B2C sale.
This method is based on a conversation with the brilliant and fascinating Linda Richardson, founder of the sales training firm Richardson and author of the huge bestseller Perfect Selling.
Hang on to your hats, folks, because this is the real deal.
STEP #1: Ignore the ABC Strategy
I’m not kidding.
Traditional courses in closing business emphasize the “ABC” (Always Be Closing) strategy. However, while it’s easy to remember, it’s also a stupid idea.
The reason is simple. Customers don’t want to be hammered into buying. That tired old ABC strategy creates a sense of pressure, which inevitably creates resistance to the sale. The customer starts feeling that you’re more interested in making the sale than meeting the customer’s needs.
when the ABC stuff actually works, you’ve created a whole ‘nuther world of woe. Here’s why. When customers succumb to pressure, they inevitably resent you, and often find a way to get out of the deal and not to do business with you again.
That means that you’re sacrificing the possibility for a long term relationship with a customer. And that’s really dumb, especially if your high pressure tactics result in a lost sale due to buyer’s remorse.
STEP #2: Cultivate the Right Mindset
Great closers believe that the clock has only one time – right now. If they get a lead, they’re on that lead immediately and they follow up flawlessly.
If you want to close, you’ve also got to torque up your sense of persistence. If there are three salespeople competing for the same business, the closer is the one who (for example) remembered to send a tailored follow up letter or email to the customer within one day of the meeting.
Closers are vigilant and inexhaustible in their follow up. They’re good at dialogue and possess the skill and confidence to know how and when to ask for the sale.
More importantly, they realize that it’s almost always a mistake to close a sale that would, in the long run, alienate the customer and damage the relationship or the company’s reputation.
STEP #3: Set an Objective for Every Meeting
Whenever you call on a customer, have an objective that is specific, measurable and appropriately aggressive.
Specific objectives aren’t feel-good goals like “I will get closer to the customer”; they’re goals that can be easily assessed and measured, such as “I will get a list of the key decision-makers” or “I will ask for the business.”
Objectives should be aggressive, but appropriate to the stage of the sales cycle. For example, on a first sales call for a complex multi-million dollar deal with multiple decision makers, it would be overly aggressive to set an objective like “I will close the deal today.”
Setting objectives doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible and adjust the goal while you’re in the meeting. But a great closer always has a direction and understands where the meeting needs to go in order to maintain momentum and win the deal.
STEP #4: Constantly Check If You’re On Target
Throughout the meeting, keep the customer involved. During the meeting you will (of course) identify the customer’s objectives, strategy, decision process, time frames, etc. and position your ideas, products, or solutions to satisfy those needs. That’s basic selling.