A – Always
B – Be
C – Closing
ALWAYS BE CLOSING! (Alec Baldwin voice)
I’m sure most people have seen this incredible performance from the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross. Alec Baldwin is a slick sales professional brought in to “inspire” a down-and-out team of real estate salesmen. The stakes? First prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Second prize, well, it’s a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.
While this is a memorable and intense scene, it harkens back to a darker time in sales where “boiler room” tactics were often used by aggressive salesmen to close business, no matter how much pressure on the prospect needed to be taken. While these techniques have been demonstrated to work in the past, years of faulty sales and lawsuits have resulted in a far better educated public and a general wariness around salespeople in some circumstances, unfortunately. Despite this,
But what is Closing and how can we do it effectively to make the deals we desperately need?
I’m just going to say it first – closing is not pressuring your client to sign. Closing is not throwing the contract at them, putting the pen in their hand, and harassing them continuously until you bend them into submission and they make a deal that, despite whatever hard work you may have put in, is not necessarily right for them and they will likely back out of later.
This type of behaviour is something perpetuated by the media and poor salespeople, damaging the art of dealmaking and spooking customers away from salespeople who – gasp! – are actually there to help people. Salespeople help those who are looking to buy, buy what is right for them, at a specific time. If you are trying to sell something to someone who doesn’t need and could never need what you’re selling, you are not only wasting their time, but your own valuable time which you could use closing clients that are the proper fit for your product or service.
Closing is making an agreement to proceed to the next step. Thats it.
If you’re far enough along, that next step is the signed contract. But if you’re just opening up your overture to your client – you need to close them every step of the way to ensure you get to where you need to be.
This is some of the “secret sauce” of sales – so listen carefully and ensure you are following these steps every time you are interacting with a client.
By reaching each successive goal, you achieve progress. Do not even think about going into any interaction without a clear goal of what you are trying to accomplish.
For example: If you are at an event trying to gain contacts that will become potential leads, your goal should be to get business cards and establish contacts. If you are then later trying to reach these people via phone or email, your goal should be to establish if they are a prospect for you. Continue to establish clear goals for each successive interaction, be it negotiating a final contract, signing it, or paying a deposit.
Often when junior salespeople contact clients, they tend to beat around the bush and not address directly the reason for their meeting. While it is essential to be well mannered and ensure your client feels a personal connection with you, you must also be clear and forward about why specifically you called today or are speaking to them at this event. Gently set the expectation with your prospect for what your goals are without making them feel like they’re being “sold” to.
For example: After chatting with someone at an event and establishing them as a prospect, let them know that A) you are at the event trying to drum up business, and, B) you plan to contact them in a no-hassle, commitment free manner. It’s likely that many will say they “aren’t looking for anything right now.” This is fine, but there are ways we can use language to ensure we get to the next step every time, which I will explore in detail in a future article. For now, focus on advising them of your expectation for the next steps of your relationship.
Your language defines the direction in which you and the client are moving. Chit-chat is fine, and if you are in a high value or complex, relationship driven sales process, you need to develop a rapport with your client. Either way, you should never be calling or visiting your prospect just to chat (if you’re attempting to close business, that is). Making an appointment ensures a commitment to the next step and makes it clear what the shared goal is for both you and your client.
For example: Once you’ve established a prospect via an initial call or meeting, schedule an appointment (via outlook/calendar) with the goal of the next call/meeting outlined. Wednesday, 10am – Meeting to discuss contract terms. This makes it clear to the prospect what you will be discussing, when it will be discussed, and establishes that the previous step has been completed.
By accepting this new commitment, the client affirms their commitment to the last step by moving forward.
The key takeaway about closing is to always have a goal in mind, so that every interaction is meaningful, targeted, and moves you forward to the next step. Closing is not about taking the client from step 1 to step 5 in a hurry. It’s about closing each step in succession until the only logical way forward is completion of the deal.
Happy selling, and remember to always be closing.