I picked this topic because I’m curious; I want to know more of what works and what doesn’t. Although my career has not been “sales”; I have been exposed to lots of “closing techniques”, listened to tapes and watched videos. After all, you’ve heard it said that any entrepreneur is 100% commission. I’ve been 100% commission since 1993.
I’m curious also relative to internet marketing (SEO, CRO, PPC, twitter, etc.). You may recall in my blog on internet vs. traditional marketing; I noted that leads from good SEO are relatively “warm”. i.e. they generally want/need the service at least enough to make the call, fill out the form, or send the email. I’m not going to tell you what our closing ratio is, but I am going to tell you I think it could/should be higher. (Especially because we have great products and are such neat people right?)
Googling “how does one sell more” or “what’s a good closing ratio”; of course yields a ton of advice. Much of what shows up is overcoming objections and the like or what I would tend to call “power selling”. (And a lot of webinars that will teach you all about it, right?) My problem with this attitude is that I don’ t like to be pushy or aggressive maybe “assertive” at times. And, much of what one reads says that most people don’t like to be sold that way although I know it still can work. Wouldn’t it be nice for sales folks, if our products “sold themselves”; like some commercials like to claim?
So, how does one close more and still build long term relationships? (You can note that is important to us in MOS values.) Now, I know you are thinking “elementary my dear Watson” Simply build rapport, know your competition, know your prospect, price it right and have references; and you’re there..right? We’re back to the beginning; why does this not always work as we want or think it should?
After doing my research, my conclusion certainly is that there is (as usual) no magic formula; and it will vary by product, industry, audience, price range, and much more. So, the following is a few key ideas that we/you may be able to apply as appropriate. (And you let me know if MOS is applying any of them with effectiveness for you.. in other words, you are buying; with commensurate excitement that we can help you.) These ideas can certainly be applied to successful sales in general. But, when you think about it, you don’t have a successful sale, until you close. However, a successful sale (close) is much more than asking the closing question. (The proverbial “will you buy?”) This will become more apparent below.
1. Know your prospect: In an article “What’s your closing ratio?”, at www.freebiearticles.com by Keith Ellertson; in discussing successful closers: “They laser target their prospects. They sit down and think about who they are and what they are going to be needing, and most important, they are inquiring what are these people looking for “ I’m sure it’s routine for many of us these days to peruse the web site of a lead before calling. But what about really thinking about the industry they are in, their competition (and yours), the size company they are and what they can afford, their location and what/who you might have in common, the current events/weather in the area, etc, etc. Knowing your prospect allows you to know their needs and desires. That same article notes this: “Notice that the McDonalds is conveniently located at places where people might be hungry” Or, maybe it’s the other way around; but it did remind me of the milk being in the back of the store at Walmart, the auto dealerships all located together, the fountain area at convenience stores being easily accessible, etc. Impulse buying is alive and well. Soooo, doing your homework and knowing your prospects hot buttons, even over the phone (which is how MOS sells most often), could/should help increase the odds of making that sale.
2. Qualify rigorously: Yes, this is related to the previous point, but, again in researching, I can relate to reduced closing ratios from spending time on prospects that are really just kicking tires, going through the motions because the boss asked them to, are looking for something very specific, or already has a price threshold; and don’t tell you any of this up front. A lead in these categories may result in the sales person going through the normal sales process with a lead that starts out with a 5% chance of success. If (by qualifying early) that “chance” can grow to 20% or more; think about the difference in the results from your time. IF (and it’s a big IF, because we must be respectful and grateful that they have made contact), we can find out near the beginning of the process how serious they are; we can both save time for more serious prospects and increase our (proverbial) closing ratio. Some ideas in this arena:
- Why are you looking? Find out their pain, with specific questions. It is usually easiest to get them talking about the current or most recent vendor, or even who else they are considering and what did/do they like and not like. Find out about price, service, support, quality, even likeability. It seems reasonable to me to say: “I want to know these things so I can do my best to not repeat them; I want you to be happy with me/us” Also, I have empathy for you.
- Who is my competition? And even; who are you leaning toward and why? Again, I simply want to know how I can best compete. If I can’t compete, I will tell you. (I will be honest with you.)
- What is your most important criteria? Find out in that first call, what is it going to take to get their business. I admit, I don’t have a habit of doing this, but I’m going to ramp that up (reminds me a little of used cars) but, if done right, it makes sense. It can be done without being or seeming pushy; you simply want to know how to best serve them. And, you don’t want to waste their time or yours if they are not ready to make a decision. If the answer is “later”; great. “When can I get back to you?”
3. Price😕 Does it always come down to the bottom line? No, not always, but, as noted above, it is (usually) very important to find out if that is a deal killer as soon as possible. At MOS, we like to discuss our pricing as “transparent and flexible”. Does that mean we’re going to always blink first? No, not always, as variables in deals changes our cost, etc; but it does mean we remain flexible with the intent of creating a win-win in pricing. If we have the attitude of “fair” in pricing; then blinking first is not that big a deal. We do not build long term relationships by gouging our clients; and conversely, clients are not endeared to us, if they are totally focused on price. In order to serve you well; we cannot always be (generally will not be) the “cheapest”. “You get what you pay for” is alive and well in our business and in most businesses.
Yes, service, support and quality do count; and we usually prefer a client who appreciates that. Think of higher closing ratios as another way to grow the business. Adding more leads is important, but so is working those leads in an efficient (quick) and effective (get to the deal or no deal) manner. Doubling the closing ratio is the same as doubling your leads. And if working double the leads requires more staff, you help your bottom line even more by increasing your closing ratio. (Small hint on where to put your priority)
So have we (you and me) learned anything? I think I have. Essentially, let’s find out as soon as possible (without offending anyone) if we have a match; then make it a win-win experience for the long term. Life’s good. Thanks for “listening”.