There are probably as many opinions on how to be a great sales professional as there are about what products and services to sell. And, although the art of selling has many facets that you need to master, there are two skills that, if your master them, you will see your sales success soar.
The two areas are your open and your close. These are the bookends of selling. Without a great open you probably will not have a change to get the process rolling. Without a great close you will leave the selling situation with your product or service and not the order. Mastering both skills will pay off big for you as you grow your business.
1. The Open
All selling situations must have a beginning, an initial contact, a start to the process. How you start things off with a client sets the tone for everything else that follows. A great opening sequence has three major objectives. They are:
The initial contact
Managing the process of the first impression
You must be able to get to the decision maker. It is a waste of time to deal with anyone else. Learn about your prospect. Be in a position to hold a knowledgeable but brief conversation. Remember that it’s all about them, their needs, and their problems. It is not about you or your products and services.
Establishing trust, and a belief in your competence and expertise is a must if you are to move forward. The way you look, how you speak, any written correspondence, and the follow up tactics you employ will all effect the first impression that your client forms. Take ownership of this process and make sure that you look, sound, and act like the professional that they do want to do business with.
Before you finish the opening process you must leave your client with a clear set of expectations. Where do you expect the relationship to go? Are you able to solve their problems or address their most critical needs? Do you have a proven track record of improving the quality of life, making your client money, increasing their personal comfort? You must convey to your client exactly what you expect to be able to accomplish on their behalf. You also need to set down expectations of how future meetings and communications will progress. Of course, you will have to consider their schedule, but you want to set up a framework that will allow you to keep the process moving forward.
2. The Close
The close is a culmination of the entire sales process. If you have done everything right up to this point it will be much easier to close. However, even if you have been a master of the sales process up to this point, if you do not close properly the sale won’t happen. Sales do not just “magically” happen. They happen for a reason and it is your job to make sure all of those reasons are dealt with. There are four main reasons that a sale is made. They are:
You have established a need
You have provided a quality solution
You have handled objections
You have asked for the order.
You have set up your close by establishing in your clients mind that they have a need or a pain that should be addressed. And you should have provided a great solution for your client; one that specifically addresses that need. Now you must be able to handle the inevitable objections that you will receive.
I know several sales professionals that meet to discuss all of the objections they hear. Then, they work with each other discussing how they handle each objection. No matter what product or service you sell, you will find that there are probably three to five objections that are most common. Be prepared with several ideas on how to address these objections are presented by your client.
The final part of the close is to ask for the order. You must specifically ask the client to buy. Ultimately, you are not paid to prospect, present, and write proposals. You are paid to ask for to get the order. More sales are lost because someone just doesn’t ask the prospective client to buy.
Now, you probably will not ask the client to buy in those specific words, but you could say any of the following closing lines:
“Can we move forward on this project?”
“When would you like to take delivery of the product?”
“I know you want to start enjoying the cost savings we discussed, should I set up a time next Monday for installation or would Tuesday be best?”
You get the idea. There are many ways to ask for the order. The key is that you ask, and then when you do, be sure and not say another word until they respond to your questions. If you say anything else the sale will be lost. I suggest you reread the last sentence because that is ultimately the key to great closing.
If you work on your open and your close you will find your sales increasing, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!