Always Be Closing
Although having developed professionally after learning this lesson, I now understand the importance of building great relationships to develop your business, it is still true that every part of the process should start with the desired outcome or action in mind. All too often, I read long, drawn-out emails to prompt some kind of vague action, attend sales meetings with no close, or watch group presentations with no appropriate agenda or opening.
At each point of communication with a customer, it is paramount that you understand what happens next in your process and ensure that you make this next action clear to your prospects. The sales process is all about control, and you must lead your customer through the process. For example, the purpose of creating a list is typically to make some phone calls. The purpose of making some calls is to create some appointments, and in those appointments you build rapport and qualify the opportunity with the purpose of obtaining a second decision-making appointment. If this is your goal, then don’t leave your meeting without this appointment.
At the start of your decision-making appointment, you can normally test the waters by using an agenda to inform the prospect that you are looking for a decision today. When asking for business, simply ask for the answer to the activity that follows the decision. Options include soliciting a date for commencement or an opinion on a minor detail. However, my favourite is simply the following: “The next step is to complete this simple, one-page form which starts with your name and address.”
Not everyone will do business with you, but your goal from each opportunity should always be clear, and you should be maximizing every opportunity. As such, my goal is always to come away with new opportunities from every unsuccessful customer presentation. These opportunities can have massive value and prevent you from ever making a cold call. Simply asking for an introduction to someone who may be interested in what you do is a great way of adding to your list and making the best use of the work you have already done.
Think of every stage of your process as a means of steering yourself toward the next step — not trying to skip a stage, but keeping you in control and ensuring that you will… Always Be Closing.