Dave Kurlan, President of Objective Management Group, recently spoke at EcSELL Institute's Sales Coaching Summit. During his session he talked about how to use science and assessments to increase sales team performance. In addition, Dave shared this best practice document with the group. You can incorporate these ideas into your sales coaching sessions to help your salespeople with closing a sale. How to close a sale is an important skill that a Sales Manager can develop in a sales rep.
How to Help Your Salespeople Close the Deals That Won’t Close
Let’s assume that their opportunities are actually closable, your salespeople teed them up in an appropriate way, and they didn't have happy ears. Following are some sales closing coaching ideas.
- Summary of the Issue - Sometimes all that is required is a simple, well worded summary of the problem, like "You're caught between a rock and a hard place. You don't want to piss off Mary or Bob, and because of that, you're pissing off both of them. You're looking for a compromise, when a compromise won't make anybody happy. The only solution to your problem is to make the decision that helps your business grow and if certain people aren't comfortable with that, you know all you need to know about those people."
- Decision Maker - Sometimes salespeople are wasting time attempting to get deals closed with the wrong people, afraid that going over their head will cause the deal to blow up. Well guess what? There is no deal unless you go over their head and get to the person who can close the deal on the customer side!
- Obstacle - Sometimes there is a single obstacle to getting a deal done. Sometimes it's something you don't want to give up. Sometimes it's something they don’t want to give up - like money. In most cases, you can summarize the problem like I did recently: "So let's play this out. You go to your board and say, 'we just agreed to a deal with _________to ______________. I go to my board and say that your company has agreed to a deal to ____________.' So far so good. Everyone is happy.
“Then you say to your board, 'and we got it for this much' and your board says you're a hero and they give you a raise. And to my board I say, 'and we only got paid this much.' They question my sanity, commit me to an institution, and fire me.
“Surely, you can't expect me to justify something like this and still be around to work with you...So why don't you either tell me that you don't want to work together, which is fine, or offer me a deal that makes both of us heroes, which I would prefer."
- Consensus - Many deals sit in limbo because salespeople are waiting for their prospect to achieve consensus from their team. It's much easier to simply say, "You won't get consensus" than it is to wait for something impossible to happen.
- Approval - Many deals get stuck awaiting approval by mysterious people whose job it is to justify their existence. Legal, HR, Accounting, Purchasing and others are often the offenders here. Better to simply ask up front, "Who has to approve this and where is it likely to get hung up?" When they answer, ask, "And what can you do to prevent that from happening - can you walk it through instead of sending it out?"
- Intent - Even more deals die because a prospect tells you or your salespeople that they want to move forward. Happy ears kick in and you take a deep breath and relax, thinking it's done. Then you go into chase mode for months and eventually either get the deal finalized or it officially goes away. You should be asking, "What does moving forward mean?" "What is the timing for that?" "Are you ready to sign an agreement?" Are you ready for us to send an invoice?" Whatever moving forward means to you, please ask if it means the same thing to them.
The commonality of these suggestions is that most are rarely well executed, if attempted at all. Most salespeople have various weaknesses preventing them from asking tough questions, taking a firm stance, risking rejection, selling effectively against competition, upholding margins, overcoming stalls, put-offs and objections. Some weaknesses make it difficult for them to maintain full pipelines, work remotely, control the sales process, achieve success and overcome resistance.
Do you know which weaknesses prevent your salespeople from being able to use the strategies, tactics, skills, and competencies that they learned from you and experts like me? Your ability to identify those weaknesses, manage around them, and help your salespeople overcome them could double revenue. Is it time to find out? Should you evaluate your sales force to get answers to these questions and more?
Dave Kurlan is a top-rated speaker, best-selling author, sales thought leader and highly regarded sales development expert. Read more in Dave's blog, Understanding The Sales Force. His website is www.objectivemanagement.com