If you’re in sales, you know it’s extremely important to close deals, right?  That’s kind of an easy question, but I ask only because it seems as though many sales people think their job is to have a lot of business in “pending.” When I ask sales people how things are going, what I typically hear is "I got a lot out there” in the sales pipeline. While I get why having "a lot out there" is important and feels good, it’s not the most important thing and it may not be a good indicator of the customers you will earn.  Closing the deal, earning customers and helping them to succeed is far more important.

So, how good are you at earning new clients and closing sales? How often does what you have in pending actually close?  If you don't know, or you you would like to improve your closing ratio, than I’d like to suggest you apply the following best practices. I encourage you to stop guessing and study what works. A little less gut and a lot more data will pay off. 

1) Is the client or prospect ready for your proposal?

Did they agree the challenge or need you are focused on is the most important priority?  Have they been involved in the creation of the idea you are presenting?  Did you had a conversation about their investment levels?  All of these are important conversations to have prior to the presentation of the final proposal. If you have not had these discussions in advance, you are setting yourself up to give a proposal which is destined to go straight into the pending pile. The best salespeople are having these important conversations in advance and delivering a final proposal that is so spot-on it’s not only exactly what the customer needs, but what they were expecting to see.  At The Center for Sales Strategy we call this strategy a "No Surprise" proposal. The results from sellers who use this concept is absolutely fantastic. 

2) Have you thought about why they would say NO?

Most sales people are filled with optimism.  Let’s face it, with as many times as sales people hear “no” every day, there has to be a good dose of optimism in there if they are going to keep coming back.  Well, the best of the best always think well in advance of their final proposal why the prospect or client might say no. They make a list of every reason they could think of why this particular proposal would be met with a no, or even a "let me think about it," and troubleshoot for those objections in advance.  Take the time prior to making your final presentation to remedy these reasons, so that when the time comes for you to present the client or prospect is delighted, and ready to say yes.

3) Do all of the little things perfectly.

Here is a short list of the type of things that you need to double and triple-check before marching out the door with your final proposal.  

  • Make sure there are not typos or grammatical mistakes.  
  • Create enough copies for everyone that will need one. 
  • Ensure sure you get the prospect’s job title correct.  
  • Refer to their company correctly in the proposals.  

This list could go on and on, but the point is don't miss the details. The detail work is what gives clients and prospects confidence that follow through on what they are buying will be handled with care.

4) Move things along, and don’t let pending sales linger.

The best sellers move things along at a steady pace. They don’t rush the sale faster then they should, but they also won’t let it stall out and get cold. Try removing the phrase “I’ll get back to you at the same time next week” from your sales vocabulary. If you have done great work up front, uncovered true needs and challenges, and have great ideas that could help solve their problems, making them wait a week is not effective – and it can lose you an opportunity. Use a professional pace to show that you are serious and can truly help them to grow their business.

Now it’s your turn: what are some of your best practices for closing more sales? Let us know in the comment box below.

Matt Sunshine is the Executive Vice President at The Center for Sales Strategy, for which he regularly blogs.

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Originally published Sep 5, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017

Topics:

Sales Closing Techniques