When I meet people for the first time and tell them I coach teams in sales, the question I get the most is how can they close business faster. It seems everyone has a story about the deal that is currently sitting in a stalled position. Many cases it’s about taking a step back and revisiting an earlier area in the sales process. Other times it’s about asking the right questions. As you build your skills, here are the 5 areas every deal needs to be focused on so you can close even more business faster:
1. Understand your customer before you engage
Before every meeting and every sales call spend time researching the person and the company you are meeting with. Use their website, personal LinkedIn profiles, and social media to understand who the company is targeting as a customer, what your contact is interested in personally, and what their goals are over the next year. Try to find out what their challenges may be based on their information and even what other companies in their industry have stated they struggle from news updates and other sources. Ask yourself, if I was in this person’s shoes, what is keeping me up at night? Don’t assume their problem is directly solved with your product or service. There may be a bigger issue that can be solved creatively, in a different way. For instance, when I approach a company on sales training, it may not be because a company does not have enough sales, it may be because they want their employees to better communicate with the clients they do have, or they want to close sales faster, or they are interested in increasing their average sale. All this can be solved with sales training, but it is not enough to assume the client just wants more sales. I need to think critically about what other issues they may have before I call on them.
2. Ask lots of questions
When you connect with your prospect, be genuinely interested in their business and them. Follow the conversation and dig deeper into their challenges. It will benefit you greatly if you have the questions to want to ask prepared ahead of time. What do you need to know to help your client? What are their goals in the next year? How would they like to see their business expand? Is there a trend they see in the marketplace that they would like to capture on?
Open-ended questions, ones that start with who, what, where, when, why, and how, create answers that are statements, and are far better to ask than closed-ended questions, questions that give a yes or no response.
When the client gives an answer continue on the path. Ask why is that important to you? What would that do for you? And if you didn’t succeed, where would you be?
These answers give you greater insight into your client and help you determine what is really important to their business in order for you to help deliver a customized solution later on.
3. Reiterate what you have been told
When the client gives you an answer, rephrase and repeat back what you have heard. The process of paraphrasing back helps to solidify your comprehension, but also lets the client know if you have heard him or her correctly. Ask if what you said back is correct, or if there is anything else you may have missed. This testing for comprehension helps the client to add more, which gives you the opportunity to keep the conversation going and start to associate how your product or service could better benefit the client.
4. Focus on one solution at a time
Many businesses have a variety of goods and/or services. If you listed out everything you did for a client they could quickly become overwhelmed. They will listen to the wide variety of products and services that you provide, but they will have trouble associating how all those solutions can fit inside their business.
Decide on only one solution that would be best suited for your client, and focus on the benefits your client will receive by choosing that solution. You can mention one or two other products or services you provide, but only if there is a window of opportunity, otherwise leave it for another meeting or follow up.
5. Ask for the close
Finally after you have understood the client, their challenges, and have tested the interested your client has with a particular solution, it is time to ask for the business. This is as simple as asking, “Can we move forward?” Once you ask, sit back, and allow the other person to give you an answer. If you took your time, the client will know you understood their needs and how you are genuinely interested in increasing their business, they will say yes.
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Kim is The Leading Sales Coach, Success Magazine’s most inspirational blogger, LeadFuze‘s most influential sales leader, and soon to be three-time author. She continues to expand her presence with international speaking, including being invited to speak at Inbound with Elizabeth Gilbert, Brené Brown, and Michelle Obama. Kim’s courageousness to quit her life and backpack solo around the world inspired her to use her mastery in sales to help sales professionals and entrepreneurs make communication shifts that lead to stronger relationships and more revenue.