By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
Unlike other B2B selling skills, closing gets a disproportionate amount of attention. It continues to surprise me when sales executives tell me their people are poor closers. The question I resist asking is: “Is it possible that they are inept salespeople?” It’s not as though a strong final scene can make an otherwise pedestrian play a hit. Successfully completing the steps leading up to closes make the likelihood of getting orders higher.
Many problems arise because sellers ask for orders prematurely. It could be they or their managers need the business in the current month or quarter. Whatever the reasons, buyers feel pressured when they aren’t ready to buy. The best outcome is getting orders, but often sellers have to give discounts to incent early decisions. The worst outcome is pressing so hard that opportunities are lost.
The best way to avoid early closes is for sellers to make sure they have adequate pipelines on an ongoing basis. That doesn’t mean there won’t be months when seller pipelines are thin (or managers need to pull in orders), but it shouldn’t be a fire drill at each quarter or month end. When pipelines are depleted by early closes, repeat performances are likely.
Here are some milestones that should be in place so that sellers earn the right to ask for the business because buyers understand:
- The business goals or outcomes they want to achieve
- The specific capabilities offerings provide so that goals the can be achieved
- Proof that the capabilities can be provided (references; Success Stories; demos; etc.)
- The total price to acquire and implement the capabilities
- The potential payback (value minus cost)
Once these components are in place, sellers should try to ask buyers having the authority to make buying decisions. With committee decisions, these components should be in place for all Key Players.
Sellers that complete all these steps may be pleasantly surprised that sometimes buyers volunteer to buy. In such cases, buying becomes the logical conclusion to buying cycles and there is no need to close.