Selling gets a bad rap. Salespeople are often characterized as pushy, manipulative, and slimy. Fortunately, the best salespeople view Sales as a noble profession, characterized by leadership and service.
If you’ve inherited the out-dated model of Win-Lose Salesmanship where you should “Always Be Closing,” you are in for a rude awakening when dealing with today’s sophisticated buyer. Buyers today are better educated than ever before, and have the ability to compare you with a dozen other providers instantly… Not just your prices, but hundreds of reviews from fellow buyers.
But this should be good news to those of you who are selling with integrity a quality product at a valuable price! It is easier than ever before to get your name in front of your ideal clients through social media and word of mouth referrals.
This article is entitled “Sales 2.0” because I want to caution you against the false machismo that personified closers in the 1980s. However, I could have easily called it “Classic Principles for Influencing Others” because the means of building relationships, identifying problems and providing solutions has not changed since the dawn of time.
Here are the 7 Steps for Closing High-End Deals with Confidence and Authenticity that we teach our sales representatives and clients:
1. Build the Relationship
The hardest part of any sales conversation is the first 30 seconds, because there is no relationship between you and the prospect is naturally suspicious of “salespeople.”
The goal here is simply to get them to like you. Be friendly and ask them about themselves. Most people are happy to share their story with you, if you start with something open-ended like: "Tell me a little bit about...."
2. Set the Intention
In order to bypass their skepticism, when making outbound calls, we do our best to use a pattern-interrupt: "I'm not a salesperson, I'm a coach." If they’re calling you, make sure you know why they wanted to speak with you.
Assuming you’re coming from a place of authentic care for their best interests, explain to them that you're interested in finding the Win-Win. I typically include: "If I think we’re a good fit, I’d be happy to explain how our programs work, but if we're not the best solution for your needs, I will do my best to give you the support you need because I want to support you."
3. Establish Credibility
You must be the expert in your niche; I don’t care how small the niche is or how new you are to the industry, become the expert as fast as you possibly can! Here are some tips for building instant credibility on a subconscious level:
-Speak from historical experience:
--"Based on ___, I've found..."
--"Historically, this is what you can expect..."
--"With my other clients, we tend to..."
-Mention past successes without fanfare. i.e. this is just what you should expect when working us
-Use metrics for objectivity’s sake wherever possible
-Speak as an organization, not an individual: "We" "Our team" "Us" etc.
4. Discover their G.M.C.P.
Any large sale requires you to become intimately aware of their:
-Goals (What do they want?)
-Motivations (Why is that important to them?)
-Challenges (What’s stopping them from attaining those goals?), and
-Pain (What is it costing them to NOT take action?)
For goals, I like to ask something broad like: “What would a Dream Come True look like for you?” Keep in mind that the pain section is everyone’s least favorite part, especially if you are naturally given to please people and solve problems. However, change itself is painful--the pain of standing still and not taking action MUST be greater than the pain of moving forward, otherwise your prospect won’t make a commitment to change their situation.
5. Educate to their Need
This section is another opportunity to build your credibility. As if you were an outsider, an objective expert with no skin in the game, explain how and why the solution you've developed addresses all of their needs. Walk them through their current options and the advantages or disadvantages of each. The key here is to provide a lot of really great value and prove that you know your stuff!
6. Recommend a Solution
If you have hesitations about taking them on as a client or don’t think you’re the right solution for them, be honest about that; I have made some GREAT referral partners by turning people away from my services and connecting them with a friend who can take care of them better than I.
However, if the conversation has gone well so far and you can easily connect the dots between the felt-needs a prospect has shared and the actual-results your solution offers, then making a recommendation will be easy. "Based on what I'm hearing, this is what I would recommend… How does that resonate with you?
Alternatively, if there are two equally viable choices that a prospect could make, you can let them self-select into the appropriate selection: "We can help you in a couple of different ways: DIY, Done-for-you, or we can do it for you... Which of these is most appealing to you?"
7. Describe Next Steps (Assume the Money)
People frequently come to me asking me to help them increase their conversion rates and they think I’m going to share some killer-Closing techniques that will make their prospects throw money at them, but the truth is that by this point in the conversation, you’ve already won or lost them. At the end of my high-ticket conversations, I typically end with one of the following:
-"If we were going to get started together, this is what it would look like..."
-"Based on our conversation, here's what it would look like to get started"
-"So let's talk about next steps. Assuming we're getting we're going to move forward together in some capacity (because I really like you and I feel like there's some great energy here or I really believe in your mission and I sincerely want to help you), this is what will happen next."
-"I'm going to send over the first invoice -- you can either send me a check or input your credit card -- and once that comes through, we will ______."
People spend a lot of time learning how to “overcome objections” but there’s a key distinction here that many people miss: There are two kinds of questions that come up at the end of a conversation. People are either asking questions because they want to say No -- these are the typical objections, and you will rarely find any answer that’s adequate, because they really just want to say No. Or, people are asking questions because they really want to say Yes -- and these questions are how they are justifying their heart’s decision to their brain (which is occasionally residing in the spouse or business partner next to them).
The best way to avoid objections like “I can’t afford it” or “Now is not the right time” is to pre-empt them at one of the earlier stages of the conversation. Knowing that X and Y are typical obstacles your prospects face in their decision-making process, explain how X and Y are really irrelevant back in the Education phase, when their defenses are still down. Demonstrate how your solution will save them money in the long-run. Or, going back even further to their “pain” section, ask them how committed they are to finding a solution: “Is now the right time to address this situation?”
If you’d like to sign up for a short video series walking through each of these steps in greater detail, visit our site at: http://virtualcoachingsales.com/freevideos.
After completing her MBA by age 25, Caitlin Cogan Doemner co-founded Virtual Coaching Sales, the premier sales partner for coaching industry leaders. Virtual Coaching Sales recruits, trains and manages in-house sales teams for increased profit margins and customer satisfaction; they offer sales solutions and training for entrepreneurs scaling to the $5M mark. Her company has generated millions of dollars in new and saved revenue for her clients, including Ali Brown, Dean Jackson, and Fabienne Fredrickson.