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Always Be Closing!

by David Brock on June 10th, 2014

Recently, a number of people have asked me my thoughts on closing skills.  I think they are asking me about the 8-12-15… techniques to close.  I’ve never been much of a fan of these—do I use the assumptive close, the puppy dog close, …?  I’ve always just asked for the order–seems to work.

However, as I’ve reflected on it, I think Alec Baldwin was right in Glen Garry Glen Ross–we have to always be closing—but it’s different than what he talks about.

What should we be doing, how can we, “Always Be Closing?”

Closing starts long before the first call we ever make on the customer.  It starts with identifying our sweet spot—what problems are we the best in the world at solving, who has those problems.  It’s virtually impossible to close, at least successfully, if we aren’t focused on the right customers–those we can really help.

It continues in preparing for the first call.  Researching the company and people you will be calling–what are their strategies and priorities?  What issues are they facing?  What can we do about it?  How will we make sure we are relevant, providing them insights they will find useful?

Then it’s preparing for and executing a call that creates value for the customer.  Usually that has nothing to do with pitching our products/services, but more about engaging them in a discussion about them and their businesses–what they want to achieve, what stands in the way of them attaining their goals, how we might help them more effectively achieve those goals.  It’s helping them recognize the need to change and getting them committed to it—“We can no longer do the same old thing, we have to do something different!”  If we’ve gotten through this part of the process, creating value through the process, they will insist that we continue to work with them through their buying process.

It continues through their buying process–again, it’s less about educating them about the product, but helping them organize themselves to buy, align different interests in their own organization, define their process and move forward.  Customers struggle with buying, we have a lot of experience in working with customers to buy–we can offer a lot of leadership and value in helping facilitate their buying process.

As the customer works to making a decision, it’s about presenting business justified solutions–articulating the value they should expect in terms relevant and meaningful to them.  It’s making sure the solution is aligned with their own objectives, as well as the strategies and priorities of their organization.  We have to help the customer recognize, if they want to get what they want, then they have to sell up the food chain, showing both the business case and how it reinforces the strategies and priorities with the customer.

Moving through the approval and order, we have to continue into implementation (this is one of the big closing mistakes sales people make).  We have to make sure the customer is successful, achieving what they expected to achieve, that they are not only happy, but are willing to serve as a positive reference.

And it starts all over again, finding new opportunities for the customer, helping them continue to improve, growing our relationship with them.

Yes, we have to Always Be Closing.  But it starts long before and continues after the PO.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

IBM

 

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7 Comments
  1. Please let me know which of these is better for you, Dave…

    I could take this blog post home with me tonight. If I don’t like it, though, I’ll give it back tomorrow.

    I could read it right now, if you’ll offer me a time-back guarantee, in case I don’t like it.

    😉

    No surprise that I agree with your approach on this, play on words (closing) aside. I’m not a fan of the word “closing” anymore, because of how it’s often used or intended (Ben Franklin was a wise old man, and he had a great process for making a decision… blah, blah, blah.) But we should always be doing the stuff you recommend here. It won’t always replace “asking for the order” (or a commitment), but it certainly will make it a much easier thing.

    I’ll close for now.

    • Ugh Mike 😉 How many double entendre’s, plays on words must we bear? Actually, your humor is too well aligned with mine! Thanks for the comments.

  2. Great Post Mike,

    I believe that today ABC stands for “Always be Connecting.”

    Whilst we shouldn’t ignore the fact that Social Selling is not an excuse not to have – and strive to improve – your great selling skills, only using techniques to close when asking for the order, is a stage, which seems to have reduced significantly from my own sales activity.

    Cheers,

    Dermot

    • I love the concept of “Always Be Connecting” Dermot–but I think we have to be careful that it has several contexts. The most important, in my opinion, is connecting in the sense of engagement with the customer–deep understanding, collaborative conversations, where we are “connected” on the issues critical to them–building value in the relationship and what we can do to help them achieve their goals.

      There is another important, but slightly different meaning in extending our relationships, growing them, extending our networks.

      Both are critical. Thanks for the thought provoking comment Dermot.

  3. Our ABC of Sales here at Smart Sales and Marketing is Always Be Caring. If you care for your customers the close will be easy. We think this expands to branding also. How a customer feels during a transaction is how they feel about you (your brand). Great topic!

  4. Great article, Dave. Building a relationship with your clients is key and it begins long before you place the first phone call. As the Founder and President of an executive career management and recruiting firm, it has always been my mission to build relationships with our clients and candidates. Identifying our sweet spot was key to making this happen. Recognizing our strengths in addition to a need in the market helped to direct us. Speaking to professionals to see what they were looking for, what has worked in the past, and what they wouldn’t do again helped us to hone our skills and create a business development strategy that focuses on relationship. It seems to be working as 74% of our business comes from referrals.

    Knowing what we do best and what our clients need most have been the key to our success.
    Ken Schmitt
    http://www.turningpointsearch.net

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