The Problem with "Pushing" to Close the Sale
On this episode a sales training manager asks: Should a salesperson ever push to close the sale? I know many people say a salesperson should push to close the sale. I'm one of those people who, if you push me, you will almost certainly lose—I may buy eventually, just probably not from you. This is partly one reason why I hated salespeople for so long, even though, in reality, I was one too—I just never saw it that way!
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Well, I appreciate that question. It's one we've all run into. And frankly, one that gives salespeople a bad name. That pushy, slippery salesperson that's trying to get you to buy and trying every trick in the book.
As the question points out, it doesn't feel very good. The salesperson feels like they have to push. And on the flip side, the prospect feels like they're being pushed into making a close. What going on there?
It speaks to this idea of being aligned with the buyer and the process they're going through to make that purchase. If we don't take the time to consider that, we may be pushing and trying to fulfill our needs, which is to get to the close. But the buyer may be at a different point in their purchase process.
Prospects go through some predictable stages when they're thinking about making a purchase. They may be open to having a conversation. They start to focus on what's important to them, their priorities, and requirements. They start to gain knowledge about the different solutions to choose from. Then they enter into an evaluation stage. They start looking at the trade-offs, the pricing, and how the different products or solutions stack up before making a decision.
If we're looking at the salesperson's perspective, who's pushing for the close when the customer is still not ready to buy. Well, that's not to say we should step back and wait for the prospect to come to that conclusion.
What we need to do is work hard to identify where are the prospects in that process and what can we do to help them through? To become their adviser, to point out, "Hey, there may be some stages you're going through. Can I provide you information? Maybe I can ask some questions to help understand your needs and provide you with information to help move you along."
When we take the time to ask those questions and understand where they are. Now we can determine "okay, what actions are we expecting the customer to take at each stage that suggests they're ready to buy?
If we're looking for those actions like they've articulated what their needs are. They responded to a request we've made about their priorities and they're able to articulate their priorities. They're able to share their time frame for making a decision.
Well, if we haven't asked those questions. If we don't understand what those answers are. And we're pushing for a close, they're going to get reluctant.
As this episode's question points out. That person is going to push back and may even seek another solution because they're not at that stage yet. They're not ready to buy.
So as a salesperson, we need to be thinking about our role as the adviser. One that assesses where that customer is in that process. Then helps guide them through each stage. Paying particular attention to what needs to happen for them to get ready. So that when we get to that point of making the request or that commitment, they're in alignment. Then it's just a matter of saying yes, confirming the details and moving forward with the deal.
To recap, if we're pushing because it's the end of the month or the quarter, that doesn't mean anything to the customer. They're not interested in helping you meet your quota. What they're interested in is solving their problem. So think about that. How can we help solve their problem? What can we do to help move them through the process? If we can get to the end of those stages and we're aligned with the customer, we'll get that commitment in the end—and we'll close that deal.
SRG Insights is a Q&A video series where we answer your questions on the topics of sales, sales management, sales coaching, and sales training. Featuring sales experts with over 25 years of sales and sales management experience.
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About Ray Makela
Ray Makela is CEO and Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He oversees all client engagements as well as serves as a senior facilitator on sales management, coaching, negotiation and sales training workshops. Ray has over 20 years of management, consulting, and sales experience and writes frequently on best practices for coaching and developing sales teams.