The word ‘close’ is often used to describe bringing a prospect over the line. But a couple of years ago I stopped ‘closing’ sales. The result? They tripled.
This didn’t happen overnight, though. It took a long time to fully understand how making a subtle shift in my approach to sales conversations could be so powerful. The new approach meant making some much needed adjustments to my language, both in self-talk and in talking to the prospect. Here’s what those adjustments involved:
1. Replace ‘close’ with ‘confirm’
Put yourself in your buyers’ shoes for a moment. When was the last time you wanted to be corralled into a sale? When did you want to feel ‘closed in on’? Probably never.
Just in case you think this is about advocating a soft sell over a hard one, it’s not. The word confirm isn’t soft, as there’s still authority in confirm. You’re simply nudging the process along by helping take them through the next steps rather than making the customer feel claustrophobic.
2. Be clear on your intention
Whether you realise it or not, your intentions behind all your communication skills– written or verbal – can be picked up on, to some extent. That’s why it’s essential to be crystal clear on them. Yes, your overall objective might be to reach sales targets, but when it comes to the sale itself, it’s important to focus on the customer – their needs, and how you can support them – not hitting target. Focus on that at other times, not in the sales call or meeting itself. It will only make you appear desperate or impatient.
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As a customer, have you ever had one of those satisfying sales experiences when you felt the person you were dealing with truly had the intention to help, educate, or even entertain you? No doubt that had a massive influence on your decision to buy. You would have also walked away with a positive perception of their personal and business brand. Whether you bought or not, you were no doubt much more likely to recommended them to others, or keep them in mind for a future purchase. So from a sales perspective, the genuine intention to help a customer will increase the likelihood of not only the sale, but a referral as well.
3. Focus on the sales process
You don’t have to be a stereotypical, pushy salesperson to make a sale. In fact, that role is something you want to avoid. But rather than concentrating on “not being too salesy,” or thinking, “I’m not cut out for sales”, or equally as damaging, “I’ve got to clinch this deal – now!” shift your focus to the sales process. Tap into what’s driving the customer and unearth their real needs, then give a clear picture of how much better their situation will be with your solution. Then take the customer through a sequence of how the process will work and logical next steps.
So, in closing…
Don’t close. Build trust first. I’ve had many people come back when they didn’t take an offer up initially or their situation changed mid-sale, often because of the business relationship we built, as much as the product or service itself. No matter how automated or digital our world becomes, people will always buy from someone they know, like and trust.
What are you doing to gain more trust from your prospects?