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Closing sales

Oh man there have been thousands upon thousands of books written on closing, I really just hesitate that I’m going to say something here that hasn’t somehow been aggregated in print over the decades people have contemplated this issue. The one thing I’d like to start with, that I ask my clients to consider, is WHY do you think there have been so many things written on closing?

Because it’s the end game. It’s what makes or breaks your company. It doesn’t really matter what you’re classifying as a close, whether it’s an email capture or a ten thousand dollar HVAC installation, because in reality the core issues are the same. You need to have a product that’s sellable, and you have to appeal to the customer’s needs, and you have to come off as amenable and consultative rather than product-focused. And without getting exceptionally nuanced (which I can), I would argue that those three things are like the sit-ups, pushups, and pullups of sales. Straight core.

The biggest problem I usually see in this area is actually the K.I.S.S. problem (link) outlined above. People who have a sales problem over think what it takes to close, usually set the bar too high, and usually psych themselves out. And once you do that, you’ve built a wall to the close that you perceive to be too high to vault, thus, what business owners do here is default to an excuse that their product needs more bells and whistles. It’s a false reason people aren’t buying. This is one of THE BIGGEST mistakes I see with new businesses. The entrepreneur’s perception of their product is that it needs to be the absolute best first, and then you can begin selling it. This could not be further from the truth. The product needs to be completed (well, yes, and provide a need or desire) before you can start selling, and after that, you will get customers. You will, if you actually try.

I remember our first close, a CPA firm in Seattle. I thought our software was just amazing, when it reality, it was sufficient but not mind-blowing. The client thought the software was fantastic because she simply hadn’t had the time (she’s running her own business, remember) to do hours and hours of research on alternatives. And they purchased the product and remained a client of ours for the entire decade leading up to our acquisition. Years later, while doing client upgrades, we looked at her firm’s website and chuckled at how OLD it had gotten, and how much more our product offered in the present. But guess what? We called her to upgrade and she said she was happy with it, it served her needs, and it allowed her to move onto other things more pertinent to her everyday business. We never even upgraded it.

It’s all perception; that’s the key to being good at sales. In choosing the playground kickball draft version of a business, I’ll essentially always pick the guy who is deadly at sales. It’s because in the course of business, there are mistakes you will make. You will develop a product that is a dud or at least a slow-seller. You will hire people that don’t work out. You will pay unemployment benefits, payroll taxes, and incorporation fees. You will design a website that doesn’t look quite right, and end up redoing it a year or two earlier than you thought. You will find a competitor with a lower priced, similar product and realize you might have to trim your retail costs to stay relevant. But you know what can keep your car running in this demolition derby? Revenue. How do you get revenue? Sales. And remember, your customer most likely isn’t doing the amount of diligence you’re doing on your competition, so don’t sit there and stress that everything needs to be perfect before you sell. You’re never going to have the perfect product, because you can (and should) always improve.

And when you’re going for the close, my best technique was always to assume the close, and again, this was my perception that the client wanted it, not that I was selling it to them. I’d get the customer to agree with my presentation throughout, ask them if they thought our product could improve their business, and if they said “Yes” I started asking for billing information. Basically, if they’re not ready to purchase, I’ll let them stop me, but I’m not going to be the reason I stop me. Closing has always been one of my strong points, with too many nuances to write here. But if this is the only article you are ever going to read on closing, then remember, it’s always easier to ask for pardon than permission. In other words, just go for the business. The worst that can happen is the customer says no, and you're in the exact same position you were in a moment before.

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