We've all been there.
You've tried everything you can think of. You've made your best offer and then some. This time, no matter how hard you try, you just can't seem to get the client to sign on the dotted line.
Regardless of the industry you work in, the ability to close the deal is crucial to the success of any sales person. Over the years, I've identified 7 key reasons why sales opportunities simply won't close - and outlined a few strategies to help you negotiate your way through them, and get that all-important sign-off.
Reason #1: A lack of trust.
If the prospect doesn't trust you, odds are, they won't buy from you.
Yes, I know - we've all seen companies buy from sales people they don't trust. Maybe you've even done this yourself from time to time. Think about this statistic: in 98% of cases where a sale is transacted in a low or no trust relationship, the client will never place another order. Instead, they shop around for the next best deal whenever they need to reorder.
In high trust relationships, the exact opposite is true. On average, 100% of clients in high trust relationships reorder without even considering another option. As we all know, repeat orders are the single most effective way to decrease transaction time and increase profits.
In short, building trust is critical to successful selling. So at every step of the sales process, ask yourself: "is what I'm doing right now eroding trust, or is it enhancing or building trust with my prospects?"
Reason #2: No sense of urgency.
Business decision makers have many irons in the fire and many problems to solve.
The bigger the fish you're trying to land, the more fish they themselves are trying to fry. The problem you're offering to solve may be the most important thing in the world to you. To your prospect, it may be just one of many priorities clamoring for attention in their inbox.
To make matters worse, today, your competition may not even be Company XYZ down the block. If you're selling promotional products, for example, your competition could be a business decision to spend the money on new laptops, an increased head count or a renovated cafeteria instead of going to the trade show where they were going to need all those new promotional products in the first place.
As competition increases, so does the list of business priorities we compete against. To close a deal successfully, you must ensure that the problem you're trying to help solve is your client's top priority. When other problems and solutions are deemed to be more important, your opportunity to sell diminishes.
Is your product or service your prospect's top priority? If not, what can you do to move it higher on their list?
Reason #3: The cure is more painful than the disease.
Prospects like consistency and efficiency. If switching to your solution seems like it might be more difficult or expensive than not solving the problem, then you probably aren't going to make the sale.
Make sure you're as easy as possible to deal with from the customer's perspective. Ask your current customers what doing business with you is like, and what you could do differently every day to be more customer friendly.
Reason # 4: No money.
There are really two potential problems here. Either the client really can't afford the purchase, or you're not talking to a true decision maker. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it's the latter.
Senior level decision makers (at the VP level and above) can find the money to purchase your solution if they're convinced they need it. Middle level managers can only spend what they've already been allocated.
If your prospect tells you that they have "no money," ask yourself honestly if you're selling high enough up the decision-making food chain. If you haven't yet approached the client, call high. You should always be selling at the VP level or above anyway.
Reason #5: No power.
To me, this is the biggie. It's also probably the most common problem for sales people in an active buying cycle.
Put simply, in far too many cases, we're not selling to the people who can buy. Most sales people I work with spend most of their time selling to people who can only recommend.
Recommenders are fine, they're just not buyers. Before you invest too much time or energy, make sure the person you're dealing with actually has the power to sign the check, spend the money and implement the solution.
Reason #6: There's a better alternative.
Another solution is preferred over yours. How can this be, you ask?
As often as not, it's because a senior level decision maker (one that you are not talking to) has developed a high trust relationship with your competition.
Notice a trend here?
Reason #7: No interest.
You've either failed to align what the buyer really wants with what you have to offer OR you're trying to sell to a prospect who doesn't really have a need.
Remember, not everyone is a fit for your solution, and vice versa. For ideas on how to create more interest, you may want to read our articles on Cold Calling at www.engageselling.com/colleenfrancis-articles_indexhtml
What's really behind "No!"
You may have noticed that all seven of these reasons why a deal won't close fall into three fairly well defined categories: political (are you building relationships with the right decision makers); financial (do they have money they want to spend on a solution like yours); and technical (are you the right fit for their needs).
Of these three categories, politics is far and away the most important. Many decision makers purchase expensive or technically inferior products because they have a high trust relationship with the sales person. If you're not building a relationship with a senior level decision maker, there's a good chance your competition is.
I'm sure you can think of examples in your own business where prospects have said that you were great, your product and price were the best fit, but they decided to go with someone else anyway. Why? Because another sales professional outsold you by building a stronger relationship at a higher level.
Many sales people complain to me that their clients are only interested in price, or that they sell to government and therefore it is impossible to build a high level high trust relationship. Both of these cries are simply untrue.
Government proposals always state that the lowest price doesn't necessarily win the business. In fact, I once lost a sale even though my price was $3 million dollars lower than that of the competition because, at the end of the day, the competition had a very high trust relationship with the head of the agency, and we did not.
You don't have to be the cheapest product or even the best fit to win the business. You just need to make sure you're the one the right decision maker trusts most.
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Make sure you check out Colleen's latest book, Nonstop Sales Boom for powerful strategies to drive consistent sales growth quarter after quarter, year after year.
Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions (www.EngageSelling.com). Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.
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