In last week’s post, I discussed the importance of not selling against an ideal solution, but selling against the best available alternative (BAA). That is a conversation that typically happens at closing, and it led to a lot of questions and emails about closing techniques, and how to roll the BAA into closing.
I need to confess that I’m not a huge believer in “closing” techniques. I realize that may seem like sales blasphemy to some of you. After all, “Ask for the order” is something that has probably been beat into you since your very first day in sales. “I need closers!” screams out sales leadership. Good people know how to close the sale, right? “The coffee, is for closers”.
I take issue with that approach. There is an important distinction between moving the sale to a close, and “closing” someone. I strongly believe that if you have to “ask for the order” or “close” someone, then you didn’t do your job correctly during the prospecting and presenting phase.
People buy for their reasons, not yours. If you have to ask them to buy, or somehow close/trick them to buy, then you’ve ultimately failed to get them to realize one or both of two things:
1 – Their current status quo of either not buying this product or buying it from someone else is a situation they need to change. (there is a problem)
2 – The other options out there are not as good as your solution. (I have the best solution to that problem)
Sales comes down to helping a prospect disqualify your solution as not viable for them, or qualify it as the best solution they are aware of. It is that simple. Not easy, but simple.
Your sales process, from the initial prospecting contact to needs assessment to the bid/proposal needs to be built in a way that allows a prospect to come to that conclusion. That is really where the “closing” happens. In your process of qualifying and/or disqualifying a prospect’s needs is found all the motivation for them to take action. Ideally, by the time you present, you are merely filling in the blanks of how you plan on accomplishing something your prospect has already decided they want. Again, resorting to pressure or begging for the business at the end of the sales conversation means you didn’t do your job correctly. Properly qualified prospects don’t need to be closed. They are ready to buy.
I will go even farther and state that “closing” techniques is what gives the sales profession a bad name. People hate to be sold, but they love to buy.