Coaching and Leadership: great coaches and great leaders must both be great closers.
In other words, both coaches and leaders are “selling” something, and need to develop the skills to make sales happen. Coaches might be selling their coaching services, or selling a new way of thinking about a problem to a client, or selling a new business model to an executive coaching client. Leaders are selling a vision, selling an ideal future, and selling a way of working together to achieve goals and dreams. So, whether you are a coach or a leader, you gotta know how to close the deal.
Now when I discovered two facts about closing deals, I was surprised but not shocked. 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up (source: Scripted). And, 80% of sales require five follow-ups (source: Sirius Decisions). What this tells us is that 44% of salespeople only put in 1/5 of the effort needed to close the deal. That was a surprise!
Frankly, great businesses know how to sell. Driving revenue through customers helps your business grow, and is the best way to bring money into your company. Without a sales pipeline that is effective, no entrepreneur or business can thrive. So, it’s essential to learn how to close the deal when you have the opportunity, and to make this skillset a business priority.
So, how can we close the deal?
…44% of salespeople only put in 1/5 of the effort needed to close the deal. That was a surprise!
1) Connect & Engage
Connecting with your customer is crucial. Our customers connect with us through 3 primary methods. They meet us face to face, they phone or text us, and they message us with email or other messaging apps. It is critical that we excel at connecting and engaging with our clients in these 3 entry points. We don’t just want to be as good as other entrepreneurs. Excellence is our goal! Tony Alessandra said it this way: “Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.” Here are crucial keys when it comes to connecting and engaging our customers, either when you meet them in your office, Starbucks, or anywhere:
- Joyfully Acknowledge People, Learn Their Name, and Remember It.
Get Off Your Chair! Body language speaks louder than words, and so when we stand up to greet our customers we are sending a warm and welcoming message.
- Answer Your Phone – Study after study has shown that effective businesses simply answer their phones quickly and cheerfully. When customers call, they deserve a cheerful, professional, and prompt response.
- Reply to Email – Email is the primary method of communication for many of our customers. Actually, it has been shown that if you follow up on web and email leads within 5 minutes, you are 9 times more likely to convert them (source: InsideSales.com). Respond quickly and use links to give information-rich replies, but don’t reply with an encyclopedia. Your customer will appreciate your care and depth.
2) Listen & Respond with Solutions
The art of listening can set you apart from many other solution providers. Rather than forcing a
certain solution or product or service on our clients, take time to listen to their situation and respond accordingly. Always focus on your customer’s problem.
The art of listening can set you apart from many other solution providers.
The most effective closers are often complimented on their high level of knowledge, which leads to effective solutions. Responding with real-world solutions is crucial, considering many of our clients may manage their health, their relationships, their finances and their careers based on our guidance.
In 1991 the United States Department of Labor Secretary’s Commission in Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) identified five competencies and three foundation skills that are essential for those entering the workforce. Listening skills were among the foundation skills SCANS identified (http://www.academicinnovations.com/report.html). In other words, some closers struggle to be successful and productive because they lack the foundation skill of listening. It is a skill we can learn.
The following tips will help you listen well. Doing these things will also demonstrate to the customer that you pay attention. While you may in fact be able to listen while looking down at the floor, doing so may imply that you are not:
• maintain eye contact and nod your head, and don’t interrupt the speaker;
• sit still, i.e. don’t fidget too much;
• lean toward the speaker;
• repeat instructions and ask appropriate questions when the speaker has finished.
• offer solutions and options appropriate to the expressed need or situation.
A good listener knows that being attentive to what the speaker doesn’t say is as important as being attentive to what he does say. Look for non-verbal cues get the full gist of what the speaker is sharing. Listening well and responding with appropriate solutions is key to a great customer experience.
3) Appearance Matters
In closing deals, appearance matters. No matter how much we all agree that physical appearance should NOT matter, it does. Your physical appearance is important enough to make a significant difference in your professional and personal life.
Now on the other side, please understand this: if you are all gift-wrap but no substance, that is also not good. In other words, if you look great but are unprepared, ill-informed, disengaged, or simply not in touch with your customer, your appearance will not help either.
I’m not talking about dressing up or staying in fashion (although I suggest it). I’m simply saying that you are more likely to command more respect and get what you want if you are dressed appropriately for your surroundings. Your appearance must be consistent with your message.
People make assumptions about you based upon your appearance, especially at your first meeting. You are more likely to receive better service, generate more respect and get what you want if you are dressed and speak appropriately for your surroundings. Your appearance should be consistent with your message. So, to maximize your opportunities to close deals, here are a few keys:
• Your appearance must be consistent with your message.
• Your appearance should always make you feel more confident, not less confident.
• Good hygiene is essential.
• Don’t forget attention to detail, i.e. dress appropriately for your surroundings.
• Remember the power of first impressions. It’s very difficult to overcome a poor first impression, regardless of your knowledge or expertise.
5) Confidence is Critical
There is an old saying in the world of sales: People don’t buy what you sell, they buy what you believe. Hustle and heart often set you apart from the vast sea of other closers out there. Given that most people don’t buy for logical reasons, but emotional ones, your heart, passion and confidence are critical! So, in closing deals, a mindset of confidence is key. To effectively close, it is helpful to have the mindset that you and the customer can come to an agreement, no matter what you are told by the prospective buyer or those around you. This mindset of knowing you can reach an agreement requires you to eliminate all negativity from your mindset and your environment like it was a toxic substance. Maintain your passion and confidence at all costs. [quote float=”right”]Given that most people don’t buy for logical reasons, but emotional ones, your heart, passion and confidence are critical![/quote]
6) Presentation is Powerful
I sat with a sales person last week who was pitching me on their branding and marketing services. Though I have no doubt they could do some good work, they did not come to the pitch meeting prepared with something in writing or even on a screen. Though they could talk through their products and services, it was troubling to me that they did not have anything prepared in writing.
Always present a proposal in writing and if possible, use a slide show. People do not believe what they hear, they believe what they see. 82% of customers viewed five or more pieces of content from the winning vendor before making a purchase (source: Forrester). Always have a contract available and a writing pad. Anything offered or extra layers of value that are included should be written down to show buyers what they get when they make their decision with you.
7) Asking is Essential
Many closers are afraid to ask potential customers whether they’re going to buy. The reason is simple: They’re secretly worried the answer will be no.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a sale! Asking is one of the world’s most powerful secrets to success. Your prospect is generally not going to tell you, that is your job and you must ask. So, here are some questions to assist in gaining commitment:
• If the information reflects our discussion, when would you like to begin?
• Is there anything detaining us from beginning the work?
• How quickly are you ready to commence with the service?
• Can we proceed now?
In the end, entrepreneurs and businesses need to know how to sell. Without a sales pipeline that is effective, no entrepreneur or business can thrive. Use the keys provided here to help you learn to close the deal when you have the opportunity, and to make this skillset a business priority.