You’d be surprised how often I hear, “My salespeople can’t close.”
It’s never about closing. Never. That’s just the symptom. The problem is that salespeople neglect to follow through with important activities during earlier stages of the sales process. Trying to teach reps how to close without addressing the broken links in your prospecting system will not yield sustainable results. It’s like back pain. You can stretch and put heat on an aching back, but unless you treat the cause of the pain (e.g., a pulled muscle or degenerating disc), your back will continue to hurt.
Diagnosing Your Problem: Start at the Beginning
If your team has trouble closing, go back to the beginning—qualifying prospects.
Ask these pointed questions to determine the real problem:
- How did the so-called leads come about in the first place?
- How were these leads “qualified”?
- Was the prospect interested in buying or just tire kicking?
- Were your reps asking the right questions to identify prospects’ problems and propose thoughtful solutions?
- Did they just discuss product features, or did they talk ROI?
- What was the marketing plan to follow up?
Typically, you’ll find that the initial contact meeting was unqualified, the salesperson wasn’t asking enough probing discovery questions, and the meeting follow-up consisted of a series of impersonal emails. This is not how you wow prospects, build relationships with them, and convert them into clients.
Smart Questions Deliver Big Results
Thoughtful and provocative questioning delivers a huge impact on close rates—and sales revenues. When salespeople ask smart, probing questions to understand what their clients’ really need, not just what the clients think they need, often the scale of the projects increases—creating win/wins for everyone. Your company gets bigger deals. Clients get solutions that actually solve their problems, create demonstrable business results, and make them look good. And you are poised for additional business—both from your satisfied customers as well as their referrals.
Referrals: Your Competitive Advantage
By prospecting through referrals, you bypass most of the hurdles that keep salespeople from closing. Prospects already know you are trustworthy and that you get results. And they actually want to talk to you, not your competition.
When salespeople receive referral introductions, they convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time (usually 70 to 90 percent). Leads from other, less-direct sources have a 1- to 3-percent close rate. You do the math.
Bottom line: If your salespeople “can’t close,” it’s a symptom (not the cause) of your team’s problem. Selling is never about closing.
To learn more about how your team can close bigger deals with fewer qualified prospects, check out some of our sales training programs.
What is keeping your salespeople from closing?