Sales people continually looking for the killer close. Somehow, there has to be something the sales person can say or do which causes the customer to immediately issue a PO.
Through my career, I’ve been “taught” and subjected to 100’s of different closes. The assumptive close, the puppy dog close, the limited time close, and the list goes on and on and on.
As a customer, I think the best response these techniques have ever elicited is a quiet groan and eyeroll. Usually, these techniques evoke an internal reacion, “I’ll buy when I’m damn ready to buy and from who I want to buy from!”
As a student of sales, I suppose I get some perverse fun out of hearing hopeless or manipulative techniques.
But, I’ve decided to be bold and declare the single, money back guaranteed, killer closing technique.
It’s something that applies in virtually every situation.
But there are some caveats about when and how it’s used that impact it’s effectiveness. If you don’t leverage this technique correctly, it won’t produce the results you need.
The first critical element of this closing technique is the timing.
Most people “close” after all the proposals have been submitted, after all the objections have been handled, when the customer has no other questions—at the very end of the selling process.
The timing for this technique is very early in the qualifying process. And we revisit and revalidate it through the customer buying process. In the end, the customer probably has the close imprinted in their mind and, possibly, provide a PO before you expect. If not, you can always remind and revalidate with the customer. So use this technique early in qualifying to have maximum impact!
The other key aspect of this closing technique is understanding the response this technique elicits–understanding it deeply, assuring the customer understands and owns the answer they will provide when you pose this closing question.
So here it is, the one, the only , the always reliable closing technique you will ever need.
More so, it’s a technique the customer will appreciate–sometimes painfully so–but it constantly refocuses the customer on why they are buying in the first place. So it’s a closing technique that reinforces the value you create from your very first conversations and throughout their buying process.
I know you are eager in anticipation and preparing to run out and use this technique immediately, so I won’t taunt you further.
Drum roll please……
“What are the consequences to you and your organization of doing nothing?”
That it, there are some variations of this, but fundamentally that’s all you need.
We start this in the qualifying process. We are talking to the customer about changing, about doing something new and different. But there has to be a compelling reason to change, not just because it’s cool or fashionable (everyone else is, so I should).
The beauty of doing this in qualifying, if there are no consequences, if there are no problems, lost opportunities, no need to change, then there is no reason to continue selling and trying to get the customer to buy. We simply disqualify them and move on–no harm, no foul.
But exploring this with the customer, getting them to articulate and quantify the consequences of doing nothing, serves as the basis for creating urgency and a compelling need to change now!
The answer to this in qualifying, sets up much of the next steps in their buying process. It sets up, the issue, “If the current state is unacceptable, where do we need to go? What outcomes should we expect? How do we get there?”
As the customer goes through their buying process, every once in a while, they get derailed and lose their way. Revisiting this closing question, “What are the consequences of doing nothing?” Something may have changed, understanding this is critical to both the customer and us. But the customer may have gotten distracted, revisiting this reinvigorates and refocuses them in their buying process.
Helping the customer have great clarity on this helps them in their internal selling process. Yes, they are going to have to sell this, getting support both up the food chain, but within the organization. Doing this is critical to moving to the point where they take action.
In the end, there may be various reasons they slow down in making a decision. There may be uncertainty, they may want to leverage witholding an order as a negotiating technique with you.
But we can always come back to this issue, reminding, and revalidating it with the customer.
For example, a number of years ago, a CEO was witholding signing a contract. We were quibbling over a few $100K on our fees, I wouldn’t change, he knew I wanted the deal so was holding out, hoping I would cave. After a week of going back and forth, I finally said: “For every week we wait on starting this project, you are losing $10M in revenues.” All of a sudden, the difference in our positions disappeared. For a few moments, he had forgotten why he was doing this in the first place. The, perhaps not so gentle, reminder immediately refocused him and we moved forward.
But this example, points out an important point in leveraging this technique appropriately.
When you are discussing the consequences of doing nothing, it’s critical to drill down and quantify the consequences of doing nothing. You and the customer can not stop at, “We will lose competitiveness, our costs will be too high, we’ll miss some critical deadlines.”
Make sure you and your customer dig deep and understand what those mean. If they are going to lose competitiveness, what’s that mean, how much share will the lose, how many customers will they lose, what is the revenue impact……? If their costs are to high, what’s it mean, what will the costs be, what do the costs need to be? If they will miss critical deadlines, what does the mean? Will they fail to meet commitments to customers? Will they fail to meet compliance or government regulations? Will they lose a window of opportunity to create revenue? Will competition overcome them and what is the impact of that?
So don’t clutter your mind with the hundreds of closing techniques. Don’t worry about figuring out which one to use to manipulate the customer into issuing a PO.
This one closing technique is all you need, all the time! Try it!