There’s a lot of possible reasons why you’re not closing enough business, but there’s one critical, yet simple, step that sales professionals often miss. It’s a step that I see over and over again in my coaching and consulting business – even with seasoned salespeople who have amazing skill and make quite a bit of sales (but could be making more).
Here’s a real world example: recently, I was working with one of my coaching clients about a deal he didn’t close.
Pinpointing the Problem
After digging in a bit, we started focusing on his sales presentation meetings. I asked him to walk me through the steps he took to ask for the business.
“At the end of our meeting I typically thank them for the meeting and then ask them to let me know when they’re ready to move forward”, he said.
I pressed him further, “No, more specific, role play with me. What are the exact words you say?”
He replied, “Thanks so much for meeting with me today. Let me know if this is something you want to implement.”
You Have to Ask For the Business!
It’s a familiar story: a salesperson not closing enough business because they were being overly polite. You have to ASK for the business, and you have to do it clearly and directly. More specifically: in order to ask for the business and close your prospect, the sentence has to end with a question mark.
Did you get that? I’m going to repeat it another way because this is important:
If your “closing statement” doesn’t end with a question mark, then you’re NOT asking for the business!
Saying “let me know when you want to start…” is just being polite. You haven’t asked for the business. And if you’ve told yourself that asking direct questions is being pushy or “salesy”? Well, you’re wrong. You aren’t being pushy or salesy by simply asking a question. You are helping everyone by determining where both sides are at in the process, and by defining where the conversation (and the relationship) should go from here.
Examples of asking for the business (while not being pushy):
- Does this look like something you could see you and your team using?
- Would this be something that you’d like to implement?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how close to meeting your expectations was our proposal? (more on the 1 to 10 close here…)
- Can we start the paperwork?
- After you review everything, I’ll call you next week. Does Tuesday or Wednesday morning work for you?
So even when you think you’re asking for the business, think back to how you ended the conversation. Did it end with a question mark?
Another Reason You’re Not Closing Enough Business
This is also a good spot to remind you that asking for the business (i.e., closing) isn’t something that should happen only at the end of your meeting. Closing is a series of questions that starts the moment your meeting begins. In a recent post, I talked about the importance of creating a buying atmosphere that initiates the closing process. When done correctly, you can ask, “How does this sound?”, “Are you with me?”, “What questions do you have?” or “Does this make sense?” throughout the meeting and your prospect won’t even have a thought of you being pushy; you’re simply moving them through the sales process.
When It All Comes Together
I was actually on a proposal meeting call with a prospect a few weeks ago and she said to me, “I know you’re asking me for the business, but I would never say that you were ‘closing’ me. Can you teach our sales team how to ask for the business like you do?”
I thought to myself, “Why, yes. Yes, I can.” And then I won the project.
Sales Power Tip: Record Your Presentation
If you’re not sure you’re really asking for the business, you should record your next presentation. I still do this regularly to audit my own sales process. It’s easy: when you arrive at the prospect’s location, start the voice memo recording option on your phone and record the whole presentation (don’t forget to turn your phone to airplane mode so an incoming call or text message doesn’t stop the recording – or worse, interrupt the meeting). Then listen to it later that day or week and take notes. On recording your presentations, Zig Ziglar once said, “If your prospect has to sit through your presentation, then you should too.”
Did you find this helpful? Would you like to set up some time with me to talk about how one-on-one coaching could improve your closing ratios and increase your sales (see what I did there)? Click here to get started…
Until next time – go sell some stuff!