When I first started in sales, I was taught a simple lesson that continues to ring every day I go to work. I was taught the ABCs of sales, and the message this relates to is:
Always Be Closing
Although onwards from 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 by considering the desired outcome or action. All too often I read long, drawn out emails to prompt actions or attend sales meetings with no close or 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. Typically, the purpose of creating a list is 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 maybe to obtain a second decision-making appointment. If this is your goal, then please don’t leave your meeting without this appointment.
At the start of your decision-making appointment, I would normally test the water by using an agenda to inform the prospect that I am looking for a decision today, and always talk in terms of ‘most people’. When asking for business, I would simply ask for the answer to the activity that follows the decision. Options include date for commencement and an option on a minor detail; however, my favourite is simply as follows: “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; however, your goal from each opportunity should always be clarified, and all opportunities should be maximised. As such, my goals are always to come away with new opportunities from every unsuccessful customer presentation. These
opportunities simply 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.
In summary, please think of every stage of your process and if it is steering towards the next step, not trying to skip a stage, but keeping you in control and ensuring that you will
Always Be Closing.