Sales are a tricky area for some to master. You might be good up until the point where you need to close the deal and get a client signed on, and then the worst happens. A client gets cold feet, starts looking elsewhere, or perhaps even senses you might be hesitant or unsure of yourself as far as your selling skills go. In that case you might find your sale slipping through the cracks at the last step. Below is a collection of tips to help you keep the sale from falling and give you some new ideas for closing that big deal.
Rescue a CEO and CEO Blog Nation asked entrepreneurs about how they close a big sales deal.
Averting stage fright
Its easy to get stage fright when working on a big sale, you start to focus on the size of the deal or the number of zero’s after the dollar sign and lose sight of the important things. 1) When trying to close a big sale, I try to keep my focus squarely on my client and the outcomes I’m trying to help them achieve, rather than the big pay day around the corner. 2) I also break the sales cycle down into logical steps and ensure that I’m achieving each milestone along the way, thereby increasing my chances of achieving a positive outcome and ensuring I remain focused. 3) The last step for me in closing a big deal is to recognise that the person on the other side of the table will have doubts and fears of their own al so, which I need to address and mitigate in order to ultimately win the business. Buyers remorse is a real emotion and often you need to increase the TLC you provide a client, the closer they get to making a big decision.
Thanks to Cian McLoughlin, Trinity Perspectives
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Be genuine, honest and contrary
Be honest, genuine, and most of all, contrary. Don’t sell them, but inspire their confidence in you as an a person of integrity. Shoot them straight between the eyes. If asked, “What guarantees do we have that this deal will work out in our favor?” Respond, “Absolutely none, but we all we can do is make the best decisions possible with the information we have, play the odds, and hope it goes our way. If this is not something you are comfortable pursuing, than we can discuss doing business another time.” This way they feel comfortable knowing that the ball is in their court, and that they are not being pushed.
Thanks to Clayton Cohn, MarketAction, Inc.
Do the same things you would in a smaller sale
My advice on closing a big sale is do the same things you would in a smaller sale – but add in more relationship building. More little things, more staying in touch with the person. It’s the extra effort that will close the deal – thus on big sales spend time on things like: hand written notes, taking them out to dinner and their favorite sports team, making the extra effort to offer more. A big sale should be more relationship oriented as trust will play a bigger role. Thus, put in the extra effort to make your relationship strong, learn about there kids, their family, their favorite team, get to know them so they will trust you. After they trust you, the sale will be easy. If your having trouble closing big sales – your liking not putting in enough time building the trust.
Thanks to Michael Brunet, Harry & Company
You must have patience
Closing a big sale isn’t easy. But, it doesn’t have to be difficult either. Here are a few tips that have always worked for me. Firstly, you must have patience. Don’t rush anything. Everything has to happen at the correct time, and one shouldn’t be in a rush to close something; sometimes the rush can torpedo the deal. Secondly, shut off the emotion switch. Do not allow yourself to ‘feel’ anything positive or negative. If successfully accomplished, this eliminates nervousness, anxiety, fear – all the annoying little emotions that could otherwise hamper a deal. When all you’re left with is logical, things have a tendency to fall into place. Third, don’t engage the deal unless you have the tools required to make it happen. Next month for instance, I plan to meet with VC firms and Hedge Funds to raise capital for the business. The last two months have been dedicated to polishing the business plan, financials and the slidedeck presentation I’m going to use. It has to be spot on perfect, and I won’t schedule a single meeting until all the materials are complete. Fourth, a top down approach is just as important as a bottom up approach, and this should be reflected in your materials. Lastly, and possibly most important, is tunnel vision will power. You have to visualize where you want to be and only after you can clearly see that “place” can you follow the paths that are required to get there. Don’t let anything stand in your way.
Thanks to Josh Weiss, TeliApp
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Listening closely to the client’s needs
My primary goal when closing a big sale is to listen closely to the client’s stated needs. A detailed RFP often takes a great effort, so customizing my proposal and presentation to each need, point-by-point, makes it easier for the prospect to review and compare with other bids. Often companies submit cookie-cutter proposals to speed the submission, with the hopes of dazzling a prospect once an in-person meeting is awarded. When the meeting never happens, the bidder may assume it was due to price or experience, when a well-written first proposal was the key. More often than not, the simplest proposal that ties back the original RFP wins the project. In addition, I make a point to say exactly what my company does – and doesn’t do – well. I never try to fool a client into believing we are experts in an area where we are weak. I’ve had clients hire me for a portion of a bid where I am strong, and outsource other work to agencies with different strengths. When possible, I make a point to touch base with the prospect with a difficult question about the RFP (such as how they segment their customers, or what is driving their new initiative), then include their answers prominently in my proposal. Having one or several conversations with the client prior to their final review allows us to court them subtly, to begin building a relationship, and to address important details not obvious in the original RFP. When the client sees information about our conversation in the proposal itself, it reminds them that we are proactive, that we are listening and that we are creating a custom solution for them. For bids involving design, scientific writing or web tools, our proposal and presentation must use those tools to flawless perfection to demonstrate our abilities. My selling theme is always, “Demonstrate, don’t assert.”
Thanks to Grant Gibson, Principle Point LLC
Having a happy, informed customer at the end of the day
Diamonds and diamond jewellery are traditionally very tactile products; people often think that they need to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ the item before committing to purchase. Combine that with what can often be a relatively substantial cost, a lack of understanding about diamonds, and the odd ‘dodgy’ jeweler that makes the headlines, and you can easily (and understandably) see why many people think that purchasing a loose diamond or diamond set jewellery for themselves or their loved one online can seem a daunting experience. For me, and the business that I’m in, honesty, trust and integrity are crucial. I encourage customers to ask as many questions as necessary to ensure that a) they are entirely comfortable with who the person is behind the website that they are dealing with; and b) I’ve given them the product knowledge necessary to make an informed decision. At the end of the day, it’s not in anyone’s interest to have an unhappy customer just for the sake of closing a ‘big sale’.
Thanks to Wade Burbidge, Australian Diamond Network
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Remember to get personal
Get personal! There is one fact that has stood the test of time in sales: “People like doing business with people they like.” Keeping that in mind when trying to close a big deal with make your success rate go through the roof. Would you rather do business with a complete stranger or a friend? A friend, of course! I recently had one of my employees contact a client about working together. They went back and forth for weeks without signing any contracts. I decided it was time to bring in the big guns. As the CEO of the company, I rarely speak with clients directly. However, I picked up the phone and called the client to speak with him about his needs, his interest in sports, his kids, the rising cost of gas, and more. That personal touch sealed the deal and the contract was signed before we got off the phone. Can you imagine getting a phone call from the CEO of AT&T to ask you about your service? Better yet, what if they asked you to come over to watch a football game or offered to babysit your kids. I have a feeling you would more than likely continue to use their service.
Thanks to Wayne Hoffman, Hoffman Entertainment
Having a solid relationship between seller and buyer
Everyone loves elephant hunting in sales. Closing big sales are what every salesperson dreams about. However, very few are able to make those dreams come to reality. The primary reason we have found to be pivotal in closing a big sale is the relationship between the seller and the buyer. This need not be a singular seller and buyer. Often big deals require a sales team and multiple decision makers or at least multiple influencers. Relationships should be formed at every level and not just focused on the contract signer. The Sales Rep not only needs to understand the client’s organizational needs, but also their personal goals. Connect the sale to the client’s personal goals. For example, if the client is being bonused on reducing expenses in a certain area, show them how the deal will help accomplish that objective. A strong relationship will often allow the buyer to be more upfront and honest about their own needs and what is necessary to sign on the dotted line. If the Rep does not share a lot of common ground with the buyer, they will need to work across differences and find areas to base a solid relationship.
Thanks to Mason Donovan, The Dagoba Group
When you can’t compete with the competition…
I spent days reading their web pages and came to the conclusion that they ALL claimed the same things, just different graphics and words: the best reputation, the smartest people, the most in-depth experience, the best whitepaper libraries and reading between the lines, because several were also audit firms, therefore they had the “best” existing CEO relationships. It became clear that I had to offer something unique, I chose specific results with fees based on client accepted results and a compressed time line. My first BIG sale came early on, I was invited to make an expense reduction proposal to a Fortune 100 company. When I signed in at the reception desk there was a sign welcoming all the consulting companies. It read like a Who’s Who for the consulting world, except one, my company. Humbled doesn’t even come close to the emotion. I had my one hour, told the client exactly how much expense reduction we would deliver, how we would go about it, we would take only ten weeks and we would not invoice for time or expenses, the fees would be based on their accepted savings. To be fair, I had a proven approach, I wasn’t going to slug it out as a consultant, I clearly wouldn’t win that battle, I had to sell a specific result not a “lets study it and see what we can come up with”. I presented executives second to last, they thanked me and I headed to the airport. Just before boarding I received a call from the CEO’s assistant asking if I would come back for dinner. We closed the deal that night, they saved hundreds of millions, I made millions and have yet to lose a proposal to the big guys. I can’t compete with them, luckily they can’t compete with the ten weeks and fees at risk. When you cannot compete with the competition, you have to find a way to make the competition compete with you.
Thanks to Jim Smith, Enterprise Management Group
Closing a sale is just like closing any other, only more so
In a big sale you’re proposing a solution to a bigger, deeper, or more complicated need. This requires a greater creation of value and attention to your prospect’s inner decision steps – it’s not the time to “wing it.” I was once selling a multi-million dollar piece of lab equipment to a major university. There were three decision makers, each contributing equal funds to the purchase over the course of two years. My job was to close two buyers, but as the dialog developed, it was easy to see each of the three was at a very different decision stage: one being unsure we were a valid option, one wanting a more capable configuration yet fearing the loss of future funding, and one foreseeing that the equipment would quickly become over scheduled. I had to meet each prospect where they were in the decision making process, resolve their individual concerns, and advance both our individual and collective closing dialogs. By not panicking and sticking to the process, I closed all three buyers, even with a higher price than my competitors.
Thanks to Michael Clingan, Transformative Selling