This isn’t just an opinion, it’s backed-up by some impressive data. Using the Objective Management Group’s vast database of over 1,000,000 salespeople, I pulled information on 359,000 to determine how many had the traits of a proficient closer (see sidebar). On average, these salespeople only have 31% of the necessary characteristics. 31%! Having so few of these traits, it’s no wonder we hear complaints about salespeople closing.
Closing isn’t intimidation
A good closer is not the relentless salesperson bully that we envision from days of old. Granted salespeople need to know when to try and close, to create a sense of urgency, and be able to help a customer make a decision, but being a “closer” is much less about some kind of tactic or trick.
Doing it wrong
What makes most salespeople poor closers? By and large, it’s because they are generally messing up the qualifying and sales conversation parts of the process. Successful closing is an outcome of conducting a great discovery conversation and fearlessly qualifying. And, honestly, it starts way back at the front end of the selling process by targeting the right customers.
Doing it right
There is a 3-step process to help salespeople close more.
- Target the right prospects. Be diligent in compiling a list and marketing specifically to those customers who want and need your products or services. Period. Quit mass marketing to everyone and anyone who will listen. Be pinpointed. And this is not just a marketing activity. This is a sales responsibility, too. Be clear on who your best customers are and why they buy from you, then go after more of those.
- Disqualify prospects. Too many salespeople want to turn everyone into their customers. It seems so much easier to close the one prospect they are talking with (even if it doesn’t make sense) than to have to start over with another one. Salespeople need to be stingy with their time when it comes to prospects, so rather than trying to qualify them, disqualify them. Have a scorecard (physical or mental) and if the prospect doesn’t meet certain criteria, move on.
Here is a good formula for disqualifying:
- What is their compelling reason for doing something with you or anything at all?
- How compelling is it – must they do it or is it a “nice to have?”
- Can you solve their problem, help them, or get them where they need to be?
- Quantify what it costs them NOT to do anything, then determine whether they have the money to spend to change and if they are willing to spend it.
- Understand how they make decisions, who will make them, what matters to them regarding decision making and how urgent is it for them to move.
- Set an agreed upon action every step of the way. In other words, don’t get stalled. If a prospect isn’t willing to commit to the next step, then back up. Inquire as to why, and determine whether they are committed to moving forward or are just being nice and don’t want to tell you to go away.
Erase the label
By wasting time with prospects who are not going to buy, and by thinking the prospect should buy but failing to determine if the prospect thinks they should buy, salespeople get labeled as poor closers. Instead, systematized the sales conversation and disqualifying process to help your salespeople close more. To learn about all the sales competencies that are important to selling, look at our sample sales evaluation here.