Recently I was asked to present to a group of nonprofit associates on the topic of The Wedge (which is a door-opening strategy to engage new prospects). However, in the final week or two before the meeting, the coordinator also asked if I could include some helpful tips on closing sales—which apparently many of the staff were struggling with.
After some serious thought, there were a few points that I felt worth sharing—the first of which addressed the concept of “closing” itself.
During my time at Principal Financial Group, we were led through a sales training program called Integrity Selling—a well-accepted, highly ethical and effective approach to selling. One of the takeaways I remember from the program is the notion that sales is NOT about a single close. Rather, sales is always a series of closes.
Look at it this way: you come across a prospect whom you believe you may be able to help. You engage said prospect on the phone or in a personal encounter, and you invite that person to a more in-depth meeting. The prospect agrees.
That’s a close.
What is the goal for that first meeting? Perhaps it is to gather information and go deeper into their situation. Perhaps it is to build rapport, and to give the client a sense of your genuine understanding of his situation. Perhaps you are selling a high-end tech product, and after that first meeting, you invite the prospect to try the product for a trial period of 30 days (or perhaps a smaller offer that is low cost, low risk, and provides great value). The prospect agrees.
That’s another close.
A few weeks go by, and use of the product continues with an overall positive experience for your new customer. You have some dialog on the phone; you address concerns that come up, and perhaps any objections. You request a follow up meeting, and the customer agrees.
There’s another close (you getting the point here?).
So the next meeting rolls around, and you present more if the big picture (which you no doubt introduced to a certain extent before). Value has been delivered; the customer has had a good experience. You propose a more complete solution and lay it on the table. You ask the customer for an answer. The customer says “Yes.”
And there you have it: close number four. What many people fail to understand when it comes to “closing” it is often not a one-shot deal (unless you’re working behind a retail counter—and even those situations vary). This simple, yet sound illustration also shows that effective sales is much more than focusing on mere transactions. It is that series of yeses that allows you to continually advance the ball down the field. Each step requires give and take, empathic listening and ongoing communication.
And the result? It’s more than a series of yeses. It’s more than a sale made. It is a relationship built.