As part of Prime Advantage, Endorsed Suppliers have been invited to share their insights on the present and future of manufacturing success. In this post, Andy McNulty from Communication Performance Management looks at the sales cycle and where you should focus your energy.
There. I said it. I’m in sales and have been in sales for over 20 years. I’ve been through dozens of sales training workshops and conducted over 300 of them. Almost all of them, (including mine), emphasize the importance of closing. So before you completely write off the rest of this blog, know that I do believe closing is important. I just don’t believe it’s any more important than any of the other fundamental aspects of selling.
On a very basic timeline representing a traditional sales cycle, closing is listed as the last step. Like any other equation, this model illustrates the importance of each element equally. Obviously there are a number of other pieces of the selling puzzle that could be included in this diagram, but these three represent the most basic, fundamental elements.
Even if we tried to prioritize one of the three over the other two, all three have to happen in order to be successful on our journey between "Howdy" and "How Many You Want?"
Whether "Closing" is overrated or not, it certainly gets a lot more attention than "Diagnosing Customer Needs" and "Handling Objections." A web search on "Diagnosing Customer Needs" generates 424,000 results and a similar search for "Handling Objections" returns 30,000,000 results. Compare that to the 203,000,000 results generated from a web search on "Closing Skills" and you can see where the energy and resources are being allocated based on perceived "need" or "demand."
Having said all that, let’s allocate even more energy and resources on the topic. First, some statistics:
- 50% of sales professionals do not ask for the business.
- 75% of buyers say they will not buy unless asked.
- 92% of sales professionals stop trying after four follow-ups.
- 80% of "non-routine" sales occur after five follow-ups.
What does all that mean? Well, it means that the 50% of sales professionals who ask for the business are the only ones who will get business from the 75% of the buyers who say they won’t buy unless they’re asked. It also means that the 8% of sales professionals who are still standing will get 100% of the 80% of "non-routine" sales that occur after five follow-ups. So if you’re not asking for the business, there are two pretty good reasons to start even if you don’t know how to do it. Merely asking increases your chances exponentially.
Don’t get all hung up on types of closes. It’s not that any type of close is any more effective than any other. Frankly, any "type of close" probably sounds so much like a "type of close" that it might do more damage than good due to its forced nature, or memorized, robotic delivery.
Be yourself. Review the results from your diagnostic questioning process, emphasize the important specific features that address the needs that were uncovered during the diagnostic process, and then state your organization’s preparedness for moving forward. Speak positively and enthusiastically about how it will all look should your proposal be accepted and then ask them. Just ask them. All they can do is say "no" and that doesn’t always mean "No, we’re not buying from you." Based on the statistical data presented earlier, it likely just means "No, we’re not ready yet." But when they are…you’ll be there and they’ll know you want to do business with them.
Good closing. Good selling.