A big part of owning a business is selling. You need to sell your products or services to make money. But selling isn’t easy.
When you pitch your products or services, you’ll go through the various stages of the sales process and then you’ll come to the close. This is where you ask for the order and hope the prospective buyer says yes. A nod by the customer can make your day. A simple “no thanks” can shatter your confidence.
Even pro salespeople approach the close with trepidation because it feels difficult to navigate. You’ve got to wrap up your sale and ask for the order but you’re essentially transferring the power of the sale into the customer’s hands and hoping that they agree to buy. Volumes of books are written about how to close more effectively.
I’ve developed a simple tool that can help you during your close. It’s a way to make the close more navigable, so that you don’t feel like you’re trying to wrangle jello.
The tool is a concept which breaks the close down into four possible outcomes. You don’t have to draw this, just keep it in mind during your presentation and it will help you to know what to do.
The ideal outcome is “A” — those who agree with your value proposition and act on it by buying. These are potentially your best, long-term customers and the list you want to nurture to turn into evangelists.
Another potential outcome is “B” — those who disagree with your value proposition but act on it anyway. This sounds strange but it happens a lot. Perhaps there are no other solutions and the customer is willing to buy your solution (which they feel is inferior). Or, perhaps the customer has no choice but to buy a solution (as might be the case with legally required purchases like insurance, for example, or with high priced vendors who deliver services in emergency situations). Or, perhaps the customer can’t say no to a salesperson, which happens a lot. You might make sales here but you don’t want to be here if you can avoid it. It’s frequently one-time-only sales and it can result in bad reviews, no referrals, and high returns.
Another potential outcome is “C” — those who agree with your value proposition but don’t act. When you are presenting and you get someone who falls into this category, you need to find out what is keeping them from acting. If they agree with your value proposition but aren’t acting, it’s not an issue of price. Instead, it’s frequently because…
- They don’t have the money to spend.
- They don’t have the time to implement.
- They aren’t convinced that you can deliver.
- The timing is wrong.
- They have to get additional approval from someone with signing authority.
There might be other reasons here, too, but these are the big ones you’ll probably encounter most.
And the last potential outcome is “D” — they don’t agree with your value proposition and they don’t act on the value proposition. In this case, the issue is price… but it’s price in relation to the return they expect to get.
HOW TO PUT THIS INTO PRACTICE
As you present — over the phone, through email, in person, whatever — focus on your value proposition and the value you can provide to them. If you don’t get agreement on that first, they are in the “D” quadrant and you need to go back and revisit your value proposition. Talk about what you can do for them and how it will improve their situation far more than what they pay you. (This is called return on investment or “ROI”). If you still can’t get an agreement on the value proposition, seriously consider whether or not they have been properly qualified as a customer.
If you do get agreement on the value proposition as you close but they don’t buy then they’ve landed in the “C” quadrant. They agree it’s worthwhile but they’re not acting on it. Now you have some idea of why: It’s not price (they’ve already agreed that your value proposition gives them greater value than what they are paying) so it must be something else and it’s probably something I’ve listed a couple of paragraphs earlier. Do they not have the money? Do they need to talk to someone else? Do they have a different timeline than you can deliver? Etc. Handle those objections and, if you get those objections a lot, build counter-arguments proactively into your sales presentation.
If you get a lot of people buying at “B”, at least you’re making sales. What you need to do, though, is ramp up the value you provide — overdeliver your product or service and stun them with great customer service.
So, as you close, identify which quadrant people are landing in and deal with them accordingly. If they’re not acting, go back and address the situation (as I’ve listed above). If they are acting, make sure you do what you can to get them into the “A” quadrant of buying action.