For those of you in business development and sales, what would you say is the most important aspect of that process?
Here’s what the market thinks. Or, at least what Amazon’s search algorithm produces when the word “sales” is linked to a related term:
Sales price 24,969
Sales pitch 11,797
Sales meeting 5,608
Sales close 5,390
Sales leads 5,270
Sales buyer 4,756
Sales quality 4,616
Sales presentation 4,610
Sales decision 3,041
Sales qualify 691
Sales screen 597
I’ll talk another time about the issue of price. (Doncha love how sales “pitches” get mentioned nearly three times as much as “presentations?”).
Let’s focus on closing—clearly a big deal to people who must persuade others for a living. What’s the relationship of trust to closing?
Here it is:
If you stop trying to close, you’ll build trust. And you’ll close more.
And yes, that’s a paradox. So is much of life. Here’s why it works.
Closing a Sale
First, why do you want to “close” the deal? The usual answers are:
a. to get my sale now
b. because if they leave, they won’t come back
c. because they need that little “push” to make a decision
d. because closing uncovers objections that need to be overcome.
The first reason is selfish and will reduce trust; you deserve a “no” if that’s all you’re up to, because it’s manipulative.
The second is only a disguised version of the first.
The third infantilizes the customer; fine for the emotionally needy, not for most competent buyers.
The fourth—to identify and overcome objections—is the most serious. It comes from a belief that buying is about rational decision-making.
If they haven’t bought, so the logic goes, there must be a reason. If I can uncover the reason, I will remove the blockage to their buying. Repeated attempts to close (the ABC rule, Always Be Closing) make sense based on this logic. And it doesn’t have to be manipulative.
But it’s still not quite right. As Jeffrey Gitomer puts it, “the buying decision is made emotionally, and justified rationally.” Lawyers, consultants and accountants think this doesn’t apply to their clients, but it most often does.
When buyers buy, it isn’t because their objections have been met; it’s because they’ve gotten comfortable with the decision. And the chief road to comfort is not through a rational litany of point-counterpoint, but through a human process of being listened to, clarifying issues, and envisioning outcomes.
Which late-discussion question do you think is better?
1. Are you ready to buy now?
2. What would you like to do now?
The first question, whether you say it that way or use similar words, is what’s usually called closing. It’s ultimately all about you, the seller. And the customer knows it.
The second question, whether you say it that way or use similar words, is all about the customer. The subtext says “the timing is yours, the next steps are yours—I’m here to be of help to you. What do you want to do?”
The second question isn’t “closing.” But it closes better than the first question.
And that’s the paradox.