Written By: Monika D'Agostino
Lean Forward – Or Walk Away?
The purpose of sales is to close business and increase revenue (and profits, too!). While this might be obvious to some, one would be surprised how many sales people actually dance around not understanding when to “lean forward” and when to move on. Many sales are lost because a salesperson has failed to recognize buying signs. Simply acting on buying signals alone will close the majority of your sales. So, what are the most common buying signs? First, let’s think about the entire selling process.
Closing a sale when engaged in a Consultative Sales Process is not a single event. It’s a string of commitments or agreements throughout the sales process that a sales or service professional needs to recognize to ensure that the final commitment, the closing of the sale, will be a natural, easy one.
Recognizing Buying Signs
Just the other day I had a delightful conversation with one of our business partners and while chatting we were commiserating about the fact that too many sales people are afraid to gain commitments and/or to understand that sometimes the sale just won’t happen. My friend compared it with a date (which of course is a topic close to my heart as I wrote the book “Dating & Selling & Why They Are So Similar!”).
He said that after a handful of dates you should be expecting a kiss. If you don’t get it, then you need to re-assess the situation. The same holds true in selling. When you have appointment after appointment, phone calls, webinars, etc and you can’t move the needle, you are either not talking to the right people or you have misread buying (or “not-gonna-buy”) signs.
Being a salesperson can be discouraging at times, especially if you have put significant time into developing an account, preparing a proposal or working on a contract and then not closing the sale. It’s easy to start thinking of what you could have been doing with the time you just “wasted” working on a sale that you didn’t get. You could have been fishing or practicing Yoga. But just as with fishing, you need to throw the line in before you can catch fish. If you wait to throw the line in only when you think there will be a big catch, it will never happen. Top salespeople realize this and often “pay themselves” for each sales call, knowing that they need to have sales activity in order to generate sales. Top sales professionals know that they get paid for every NO!
Here are some typical examples of gaining commitment during a sale straight out of our Consultative Sales Certified Training Program:
When you ask for an appointment – This may seem insignificant, yet it is often the first YES that gets the ball rolling. A customer will not commit to you until they’ve said ‘yes’ at least twice. Assertively asking for an appointment is the best way to start the closing process.
When you first meet with the customer and begin to uncover needs – You may simply state,
“If we can show you how we can increase your production by utilizing us as a source, will you consider switching vendors?” You are beginning to condition your customer to say ‘Yes’.
When a customer asks you for something or has a special request– For instance, when a customer asks you to put together a quote or special pricing. STOP! Don’t run off to purchasing or your manager just yet! Right now, this is a perfect opportunity to close by asking the customer for a commitment.
You might say, “If we put together this special pricing, what will your next steps be?” OR
“Assuming that we are able to do what you ask, will you go ahead and switch to us as your main supplier?”
This is extremely important for two reasons. First, it mentally commits the customer to you. It is very difficult for customers to back down after they have made this type of commitment.
Secondly, it will clear up any misunderstanding or missed intentions that will save you and your purchasing department or your management from wasting time.
When you’ve uncovered a need – you can simply ask a question like,
“If we can take care of that concern, you’ll want to go ahead with this, right?”
Over 18 years of research and competency modeling with over 4,500 top performers has shown again and again what top sales people think about and do:
(Some sales professionals even pay themselves for each NO.)
Closing signs that your customers may demonstrate include: When the buyer leans forward, or when the buyer asks specific questions, or your customer gives you a verbal or visual acceptance signs (such as asking you to explain something again, or nodding in agreement).
I’m Monika D’Agostino, the founder and Chief Sales Officer at Consultative Sales Academy. Born…
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