Little Commitments Are Better Than Big Closes

By Bob Apollo

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Whenever a potential client tells me that they believe their sales people have a “closing” problem, I can be pretty confident that the problem actually lies elsewhere. There are a bunch of reasons why the macho “always be closing” mantra no longer works in B2B sales.

Buyers are far more sophisticated nowadays – and they are very alert to any attempts to manipulate them or to bounce them into a decision that they are not ready to make. There are a number of factors behind this, not least of which that significant buying decisions typically require the consent of a number of actively engaged stakeholders, and not just a single decision-maker.

And if the heroic close relies on a one-off, never-to-be-repeated offer, most buyers believe that the same offer (or a better one) is likely to be available next quarter, as well. They will make their decision in a timeframe that suits them, and not that of an increasingly desperate sales person…

That’s why most “closing problems” have their roots far earlier in the sales process, and often reflect a series of missed opportunities to secure their commitment to move forward with us to the next stage in their buying decision process.

MOST “CLOSING PROBLEMS” ARE ACTUALLY OPENING PROBLEMS

In my experience, most failures to close a winnable opportunity are rooted in how the sales person opens the conversation with the prospect, how they qualify them, and how they seek to advance the opportunity from stage to stage.

I want to give credit to Anthony Iannarino for developing this theme in his excellent “The Lost Art of Closing”, in which he identifies that successful sales outcomes are usually the consequence of a series of progressive commitments on the part of the prospect.

AVOIDING AGREEABLE MEETINGS

How many times have you asked one of your sales people how their latest meeting with a prospective customer went, and heard the response that they had a “good meeting” – but when you probe them, you find that:

  • The customer did not actually commit to do anything new or different as a result of the meeting
  • The sales person could not identify a single piece of learning that might cause them to review their deal strategy
  • Every one of the agreed actions (assuming there were any) were things that the sales person agreed to do
  • At least the sales person wasn’t thrown out of the prospect’s office or the call wasn’t summarily terminated by the prospect

It’s hard to justify the conclusion that these sorts of meetings are typically anything other than a horribly unproductive waste of both the sales person and the customer’s time.

COMMITTING VALUABLE RESOURCES

Our goal – in every customer interaction – must surely be to emerge with the customer having agreed to make a commitment, no matter how small, that requires them to expend some valuable resource, whether it be their time, information, or their political capital.

And if we can’t achieve that – if we can’t be confident that a genuine exchange of value has taken place – surely Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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