Author: Karina Collis, founder of liinea.com
In any business, whether a small local bakery or a large eCommerce platform, there will be a moment when it is crucially important “to catch a big fish” either as a client or a business partner. How do you make sure that this “big fish” doesn’t just slip away?
Here are seven golden rules that will help you achieve all that.
“Business is business” and being direct will save you and your customers a lot of precious time. What can be easier than to ask “What will it take for you to become our customer?”. Just one simple question can give you an insight into where you are with your pitch and into how soon that sale could be closed. Other good questions to ask:
- Guide me through the steps we need to complete for you to become our customer (or partner)?
- Do we need to talk to someone else on your side before you make a decision?
- How quickly can you make a decision?
Don’t shy away from working on objections
Objections and doubts are part of human nature. In fact, they are very good because they allow you to better understand the way your prospects think. Working on the objections, providing more information, will increase the prospects confidence in your offer. One of the ways to address concerns is to tell stories about other clients that felt uncertain until they learned about the advantages of working with you or until they ultimately realized they would save time and even money. In short, references work. Addressing common “worries” proactively and for the many is another way of dealing with objections: check out, for example, how Dollarshaveclub.com does it with their FAQ page. Some of the questions there are great examples of objection handling.
“ABC – Always Be Closing”
These words, spoken by Alec Baldwin back in 1992 in the “Glengarry Glen Ross” movie, are hardly a new concept. But it is a phenomenal reminder of the importance of closing every call and every meeting by defining the next steps and the timeline. It is human nature to be effective with a clear roadmap and under a strict deadline. No more wasted time on trying to schedule another call or catch up just as a follow to the call that just happened!
Work with time objections
The most common objection from a potential client or a partner is to move slowly and to delay follow up calls, which slows down the entire sales process. What can you say in return? Focus on the time value, explaining that by delaying the conversation you are losing precious time. Here is my example of a conversation that you might have with your prospect:
Your potential client: “Lets catch up in 3 weeks time.”
You: “I understand that you are very busy, I feel exactly the same. I also imagine that in three weeks time we both will be covered with other things to do. What I found out by working with other clients of us, that but keeping big pauses between the calls, we forget a lot of information and we have to spend twice more time on picking it up from where we left the conversation. So, if we want to save time, we need to arrange this meeting (or call) next week. Do you have 30 min on Thursday? “
Keep momentum going
Towards the end of the call, summarise your key action items that you will be taking away as a follow up. Scheduling the next conversation at the end of the first meeting.
“So my key takeaway here is to create a proposal based on the outcomes that we have talked about. Lets look at our diaries and pin down a 30 minutes next week for me to walk you through it. From there we can take next steps that make sense”
From early days we learned that we shouldn’t put all the eggs in our basket. The same principle works while talking to your potential clients or partners. Statistics says that 9 out of the 10 prospects you are talking to today will not become your clients. The faster you determine the “highest win probability” prospects, the faster you will arrive at the finish line. Your targets are those “low-hanging fruits”, park the rest for later.
To determine who the highly probable wins are, you need to learn as much as possible about your potential clients. What is their motivation? What does their decision-making process looks like? What roadblocks might they face? Etc… Every information on the inside will help you rate the level of genuine interest and ability to sign you up as a vendor.
Make more friends
Nothing could be more effective in sales. Whatever you offer, there is a high chance that behind the main decision maker there are advisors and influences (partners, friends etc).. Talking to them all will help you create value for every single layer of the decision making cake. Listen to their concerns, work with them, and help by providing the information they require to support the purchasing decision. You goal is to get every single yes not just one of them, because it will help you sign in less time.
With every day that passes, the chances of closing a deal slowly but steadily vanish. The main reason for this is the “buyers’ remorse effect”, a trick that our brain plays on us, making us doubt our decisions. To prevent your prospect from suffering from this mental torture, you need to move fast. Think of 3 reasons why the deal should happen now. Is it because this offer expires tomorrow? Is it because you have other engagements next months? Is it because the biggest benefit for the client or partner will occur only if he/she commits work with you as soon as possible?