Have you ever been the salesperson feeling hugely disappointed that a piece of business you had considered ‘closed’ went to a different supplier?
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.
This, in turn, means that there are two parts to closing a deal:
- the emotional close
- the legal close
The emotional close.
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
The legal close.
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.
Properly qualifying EVERY potential piece of business whether from an existing or new client has a number of key benefits:
- It allows you to understand your client’s emotional need for wanting to buy
- It will uncover any potential objections (such as choosing an alternative supplier) before you offer your solution
- It increases the buyer’s desire to purchase and adds momentum and pace to the sale
- By properly qualifying every sales lead, the salesman is then able to maintain more control of the conversation as it progresses, and should never be hit with any nasty surprises further down the line
So when is the deal really closed?
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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