Closing the deal: If you don’t get your customers to sign on the proverbial dotted line, all the hard work that goes into prospecting and positioning the sale is for naught.
Worse, your competition steps in to finish what you've started.
Even in the best-case scenario, where a customer eventually agrees to do business with you, but takes considerable time coming to that conclusion, revenue isn’t coming into the business while the customer dithers.
How do you prevent a good deal from taking too much time and effort, and still wind up going south?
Here are 10 tips on how to get customers to say, yes more quickly.
1. Create a Sense of Urgency
How many times have you bought something you didn’t really need, or didn’t need right away, but you had a coupon with a special offer that was about to expire? That’s the point of expiration dates. Use it or lose it.
You may have gotten around to buying the product eventually anyway, but a coupon for a discount or some other reward for purchasing provides incentive to buy now rather than later.
As Startup Nation notes: “Sometimes the person on the other end of the deal will be happy to close it, when they can get around to it. Timing may be much more important to you.
So if necessary, you want to create a sense of urgency to get their commitment, and that may require some final concessions to refocus their attention.
This may involve offering a two percent greater discount, net-30 terms instead of net-10 requirements, or offering a two-year service agreement instead of one-year coverage.”
2. Set a Deadline (Preferably With an Impending Event)
This also creates a sense of urgency, but without giving away anything financially or conceding special terms. Nothing expedites a decision like a ticking clock.
If at all possible, the nature of the deadline should appear to serve the customer’s interests, not yours, in wanting to get the deal done. Employ what Thomas Metcalf terms an impending event favorable to the customer.
An example is that an installation crew is in the neighborhood only for another week, or that product inventory levels are getting to the point where there may be a temporary shortage of availability if orders aren’t placed soon.
The message is: Miss the deadline, miss a good opportunity.
Related Article: Born to Sell: Do You Have Sales Personality?
3. Do Your Homework
According to The Marketing Donut, studies indicate that only about two percent of all deals close after the initial meeting. Those that do are generally the result of customers already knowing what they want and the sellers having exactly what they want.
So the better you know your customer’s needs beforehand and how they exactly align with what your products/services can satisfy them, the greater your chances of closing quickly after only the first meeting.
Even if your initial effort doesn’t become part of that two-percent statistic, don’t despair. Better preparation makes its all the more likely to close the sale faster in the followup.
4. Know Your Competition
Everybody likes to shop. You can expect your customers to want to check out what you competition has to offer. But sometimes that’s an excuse to delay, or perhaps get the upper hand in negotiating by seeming to be interested in other offers (even if they really aren’t).
Nip this in the bud by knowing exactly what your competitors provide, and knowing why your products/services are superior in terms of better pricing (or why a higher price gets them more for their money) and features/benefits.
Customers may still want to check out your competitors. But if you’ve already countered why they are better off doing business with you, the faster they’ll reach that conclusion for themselves.
5. Be Trustworthy
While this is what Eric Miller, a principal of engineering firm PADT, writing in the Phoenix Business Journal, describes as falling into the “duh” category, the unfortunate fact of doing business today is the need for multiple levels of review and approval, particularly for complex contracts.
What can expedite this process is building a level of trust with customers.
As Miller points out, “When we work with companies in smaller, tighter-knit communities, we’re shocked at how fast they can get funding, engage a vendor, or hire a new employee.
The difference is the level of trust they have with their ecosystem. They’re not making blind deals without checks and balances.
That got us musing. What if we focused on trust as part of our normal process. Instead of assuming that it will build over time, why not recognize its importance and work on building it.
Get to know the other side, let them get to know us. Share our competence and integrity early on, maybe even swap references to get things moving faster. Have dinner together.”
Related Article: Staying Motivated: 10 Quotes to Inspire Your Sales Team
6. Be the Real Deal
This is how you gain a customer’s trust: No BS. Don’t be the salesperson who says whatever it takes, even if it isn’t exactly accurate, or in the customer’s best interests, to get the sale.
Customers who feel you weren’t totally transparent may make faster decisions, unfortunately, what they’ll be quicker to do is say, no.
7. Identify the Decision-Maker
While it’s always important to work with decision-influencers, the sooner you present to the person who actually makes the decision, the faster you get a decision.
The decision-maker is not always the owner of the company, or even a senior level executive. It’s the person with the authority to approve your invoice and get you paid.
And, as Mark Satterfield of Gentle Rain Marketing points out, the decision-maker is not always the same person you dealt with the last time.
“For example, the more you're asking them to spend, the higher the decision will be made in the organization," writes Satterfield.
"Similarly, as business conditions become more difficult, the higher the decision is likely to be made. Another factor is your personal history with the client.
If the company knows you or your firm, they may feel more comfortable delegating the purchasing decision down in the organization. If you're an unknown entity, the opposite is often true.”
8. Be Like Warren Buffet
Tom Searcy, co-author of, How to Close a Deal Like Warren Buffett — Lessons from the World’s Greatest Dealmaker, notes how Buffet managed to buy home manufacturer Clayton Homes in an offer-to-close in less than two weeks:
- He understood the company’s problems and had a plan to solve them.
- He did his homework (see #3 above).
- He’s careful to only do deals he knows he can win fast.
9. the Early Bird Catches the Worm
As Anthony Iannarino points out in, The Sales Blog, the earlier you are in the customer’s buying cycle, the better. “Being in front of a deal brings speed," he writes.
10. Follow Up Like a Friendly Bulldog
Marketing coach David Newman emphasizes the need for follow-up. He writes: "Never let an active prospect get more than 10 days away from you.
Always show up in their world like a happy squeaky wheel: Circle back. Send more value. Ask more questions. Offer more engagement. Invite further dialogue. Come back with more ideas to genuinely help them.”