Clearly in this case your prospect had a very different perspective of the conversations that had taken place, and in their mind they had never confirmed the contract – perhaps you never had a signed contract, hence the deal was never really closed.In most business situations like the one described above it is the lack of the salesman’s skill that has allowed the deal to slip away, not the buyer changing their mind afterwards.One of the first questions we ask all companies we work with is: What is the value of your ‘pipeline’ and ‘order book’? This often reveals a grey area between what they think is closed business and what is still in the pipeline. Some make the mistake of reporting business as closed when it is still working through the sales process.
The reason for this goes back to one of the basic fundamentals we’re always harping on about in sales: the real reason why people buy. People buy based on emotion, and justify their decision with logic.
The emotional close is the point when the client has emotionally committed to working with you and understands what their contribution is in order to gain the benefits you’ve outlined. At this point they should be so emotionally attached to the outcomes you’ve described that they feel a sense of loss if they were not to experience the pleasure you’ve sold to them.
They will throw off signs, or buying signals, that they have reached this point in their thought process. These can include a change in body language where they start to mirror your gestures or language, something that is called ‘Pace & Lead’. They will ask more questions, which rather than pre-empt an objection are in fact a sign of interest. But probably the most significant signal to watch and listen for is they will start to talk as if they’ve already made the purchase, and this is the moment that any salesman worth their salt will ask the client for their firm commitment
If a client is ‘emotionally closed’ a legal close should be offered immediately. By legal close I mean they sign the paperwork, make the payment or agree to your business terms.
This legal step in securing the business, if not immediate, should be completed within 24 hours of the emotional close. Do not feel uncomfortable asking for this, it’s the most vital part. If they are truly emotionally committed to you and your proposition, signing the order is the natural next step and it will be welcomed.
When reviewing sales statistics or business KPIs, only ever count legally closed business as order book value. Everything else (even those deals that are emotionally closed but still waiting on legal confirmation) are still in the Pipeline. Then and only then should it be reported as a sale.
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Nicola Cook is an award winning entrepreneur and twice published international best-selling author on professional selling and personal & business growth. She is CEO of Company Shortcuts, a business devoted to improving business results by injecting skill, passion and strategy to help those entrepreneurs and sales enthusiasts achieve the sales results they desire.