As an entrepreneur, you are afraid to actually close the deal. You want the sale, you're hungry, you want the revenue, but deep down inside, you're terrified that they're going to walk. And so you'd rather keep them busy, maybe keep them on the line, then ask for the business and close it.
As an entrepreneur, as an entry-level salesperson or someone who's struggling, every opportunity matters. And you build up in your mind so much importance about every opportunity that you do not want to risk losing a single one. And so you'd rather live with the potential of what could be then put the pressure on a prospect, or turn the screws, or actually risk losing it. And that puts you in a pretty weak position. Sales is about confidence, and about knowing that you can help people and knowing that you can't help everyone.
There are lots of people who won't work with you for lots of reasons that are out of your control. And so the faster that you come to terms with realizing that you're simply looking for who you should get a yes from and turning away those that you should be getting a no from, the better off you're going to be. The problem is, you spend way too much time trying to chase everyone, trying to make everyone a “yes” when the reality is that most people will be a “no,” and knowing you’re awesome means that you're not wasting time. Later, they might come back and turn into a “yes,” but for today they’re a “no.” When you have someone who should be a “yes” and they're getting away, that should eat at you, that should kill you, that should destroy you.
And so when it comes to closing, when it comes to that part of the sales process, you should be honest and open and direct, asking for the business and being above the board, not scared, not nervous. None of those things matter when you come to the point where you need to take control, put a little pressure on. Will you do what you need to do to make it happen? If there's a little speck of doubt in your mind, here are three things that I use to give me the confidence I need in those hard conversations to close that deal.
1. Be 100% open to changing your process based on the client.
I love sales processes. Because you can measure each point, you understand the speed in which you expect people to move through it. You know that after this step, the next step comes, you know the purpose behind every step. And so having a very clearly defined sales process, every tool, every outcome, every objection, everything listed out, makes total sense to me. I love it, I find comfort in it.
But truthfully, there are some people who can skip steps and move quicker. And there are some people who need a lot more time. The question is, whether you're willing to play ball. I used to have a salesperson who used to tell me, “Mark, if you're not willing to play ball with them, we're not even in the game.” You have to actually play the game, even have a swing at winning. And now there are some people that I'm willing to play their game for. And then there are others when I'm like, “No, this is our process, this is how we work,” but you have to recognize that every prospect is different and requires different amounts of time, information, tools, resources, or whatever it is.
To feel comfortable or to sell upstairs or to buy that product, whatever it is, respect the fact that every prospect is different. If you do change for them just a little bit, you will increase your close rate, because you're gonna have more people in the funnel.
2. Build a sense of urgency.
Nothing is worse than having a prospect with no sense of urgency. You know, we were looking at a CRM based software here at our company, and I started looking at it last December. I reached out to the company in March, I said we weren’t ready to go. We didn't get started until September. At the end of the day, I was honest with them. I literally had no reason to move quickly. I know it'll help us if there's no sense of urgency.
And so that sale will wait for them for a very long time. You need to recognize whether there is a sense of urgency in your prospect, whether you can build a sense of urgency into the process, or whether you have to just respect the fact that they will take as long as they will take. Some will be a “yes,” and some will be a “no.” Now, you're trying to move them out of that “maybe” category. Without that a sense of urgency, people can become maybes for a very long time. So is there a deal? Is there a promotion? Is there a scheduling challenge? Is there a reason to be able to build some sense of urgency or tie what it is you're looking to do into a renewal or into something else, to wrap it into a timeline that will help you close that deal?
3. Trial close.
With a trial close, you are basically asking simple closed questions or leading questions that you know are indicators that people are ready to move forward. And so a sample of this could be a question like, “Is there any reason why we wouldn't be able to get started? If we were to schedule the kickoff meeting in two weeks would that give you enough time to get started?” Or, “I've gone ahead and scheduled out the next 10 weeks of meetings, I'm holding the dates, should I be sending you a contract?” Or if it's a product, “You know, we have an installer who can come by your place in the next two weeks. We have availability in our warehouse right now. Should we set up a shipping date to be able to send this to you?” All of these questions are trial closed questions because they give the person the chance to say “No, no, no, I'm not ready for that yet. I need to go talk to my husband, I need to go talk to my wife, I may have to set up my financing, I'm not sure about it, or I need to sell this upstairs” or whatever it is.
But it gives you an indication of whether they're ready to move forward or not. And if all you do is say, sign this, we're ready to get started. And they're not ready. You are only giving them an option to walk away from you. But with the trial clothes, you're giving them a soft close, a soft pitch a soft side to be able to say, yeah, I'm ready to move forward. But this or that, or, yeah, I'm ready to move forward now. And if you ask these questions a few times over the course of either a conversation or a few conversations, begin an indication of exactly when they're ready to get started. And then that's when you go in for the clothes.
No matter what if you leverage these tips, they will help you but you have to ask for the business. You have to have the next step. You have to drive people for you can't be passive. If as an entrepreneur, you're struggling with sales, it's most likely because you don't have a process or you're just not asking for the business, so take the lead, drive people forward, leverage trial closes and being opening to bobbing and weaving and everything else that will help you lead people through the conversation. But more than anything at a certain point, don't be afraid to hear the know. Look for the Yes, but ask for the business.