Improving Win Rates with Better Sales Closing Techniques
When I speak with sales leaders about improving sales performance, one of their most frequent comments is that they need their team to become better at closing business. This need is typically amplified at the end of a quarter or fiscal year as sales organizations feel increased pressure to close deals.
What I have typically found is that sales reps who find it challenging to close business haven’t done a great job of guiding their customer through the purchase process. In other words, the sales rep gets so focused on what he or she wants to accomplish that they forget that the purpose of the sales process is to guide the customer to a favorable decision.
The chart below illustrates how each step in the sales process aligns with the customers purchase process.
In looking at this model, note that the final step in the sales process is “gaining commitment” and that this aligns with “decision” in the purchase process. In other words, for the sales rep to gain commitment the customer must be ready to make a decision. Unfortunately, many sales reps who are looking to gain commitment get the “silence treatment” as customers ignore the countless e-mails and voice mails the sales rep has left them.
Typically, the reason customers go silent is because they are not ready to make a decision. As a result they find it annoying to respond to anxious sales reps who are looking to close business. What most sales reps fail to grasp is that when the customer is evaluating their options, they may want to learn more or even readdress their priorities. As an example, if a customer discovers that the cost of a solution exceeds their budget, they may want to reprioritize their needs and scale back the initiative.
To increase the probably of gaining a favorable commitment, sales professionals should use the following sales closing techniques to guide customers through their purchase process:
- Effective call planning to generate customer interest
- Use questioning and active listening skills to help customers articulate their needs
- Conduct value driven conversations that provide customers with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions
- Proactively managing customer feedback so that customers can fairly evaluate their options
As sales professionals guide customers through the purchase process, sales reps gain valuable insights into customer’s needs, key stakeholders, competition, evaluation criteria, and decision making process. They will also build a trusted relationship with the customer that allows for a higher probability of success when they ask for a commitment.
Of course, there are still many sales professionals who are reluctant to ask for a commitment even when the customer is at the “decision” phase. Like every other selling skill, gaining commitment requires practice and confidence. Here are four key steps to gaining commitment:
- Recap priorities
- Ask for feedback to ensure that you haven’t missed anything
- Relate key benefits to reinforce the value of your solution
- Ask for a commitment
One final point about asking for commitment is to make sure that your request is reasonable and something that the person you are working is empowered to say “yes” to. While this won’t ensure that will always get a “yes”, it will increase your win rates and allow you to continue to develop the relationship.
About Norman Behar
Norman Behar is Chairman and Managing Director of the Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience, and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.