A salesperson’s biggest mistake is failing to ask leads enough pertinent questions. Bad salespeople will control the sales discussion by expounding on their firm and all of their product’s qualities. Even good salespeople sometimes make the error of not investigating thoroughly enough and just accepting the first response a potential client provides. The sales arc comprises four small discussions that must take place in the correct sequence.
- The Product Fit Discussion
Tick the following boxes:
- You’ve decided that you can assist your prospect in doing something better.
- Your prospect (not you) recognized that your product or service might assist them in achieving their goal. (If not, come to a halt here and find out where the gap is.)
To get support, say something like:
“John, do you believe this will assist you in achieving their intended result?”
Then, as a follow-up, say:
“Why not do it in-house or wait?”
- The Decision Discussion
Next, tick the following boxes:
- Your prospect can make a choice, or you have a direct line of sight to the person who can make a decision.
- Your prospect has agreed to a “decision-making” date and has scheduled the meeting.
- The Investment
Check the following box:
- You’ve made compromises and obtained buy-in from the person with authority to decide.
- The Process Dialogue
To maximize your chances of closing, you must have your prospect’s agreement on when the contract will be signed. The important term here is “potential buy-in.” When your prospect provides you a signature date, they’ll want to keep it since individuals want to be consistent with what they’ve stated in the past. (In psychology, this is known as the principle of consistency.)
Here’s how you may approach getting a signature date:
Salesperson: “Tell me about the procedure for making things official.” “Do we simply shake it? “ (Tip: Use comedy to relieve sales pressure.)
Prospect: “First, we need to A, then B, and ultimately C,”
The One Question
Salesperson: “John, presuming you’re OK with the business conditions and sacrifices we’ve made to get the pricing where you need it to be, when can you commit to signing this?”
Prospect: “Sometime in the next three weeks,”
Salesperson: “So that would be… “
Prospect: “November 13th,”
Adding Some Edge to the Signature Date
Put the signing date as a contingency in the contract based on the concessions you made while negotiating to give the date teeth and hasten your transaction via legal/procurement. Have legal draft wording such as “This contract is predicated on obtaining a completely completed agreement by November 13th, 2017.” The inclusion of a signing date in the contract creates a feeling of urgency and prioritizes your agreement above other suppliers. It’s not a huge concern if the date slips a day or two. However, if it lags too much, you may be able to cancel the contract (since the concessions you made are contingent on the signature date).
Because your prospect (and maybe other organization members) has “buy-in” on earlier talks and have committed significant time, they will be engaged in having the document signed before the deadline. If you have to walk away, you likely skipped a step in the prior dialogues. (This is an excellent opportunity for introspection.) However, if a significant amount misses the deadline, tell your prospect that the contract is null and invalid. (With thanks to Mitch Morando for this tip.)
Utilizing this method will have more predictable closing rates and avoid clogging your pipeline with stopped transactions.