Stop Closing and Start Opening

open door

Searching Amazon I found nearly 6,000 books written on “closing the sale”.  Hundreds of tips, techniques and in some cases – shhhh – secrets, about how to be a better closer.  The fact is that sales professionals should spend less time perfecting their closing skills and more time on their opening skills.

Most sales fall into 3 buckets:  sold, not sold, and pending sale.  That means about a third of the deals you’re working on will close regardless of what you do, a third will say no regardless of what you do or say, and the final third is really the only bucket you can influence.  How you influence, and how effective your ability is to influence others, rests solely on how well you build trust and rapport.  And when does that happen?  In the first stages of a sales encounter with a prospect, and over multiple encounters with your existing customers.

If you shift the time you spend on trying to become a better closer, and focus that time and energy on learning more about your customer, and prospect, your sales results will improve.  Not only do people still buy from other people but they buy from those they trust and respect.  Have you ever bought something from a sales rep you didn’t trust?  What was the last thing you bought from someone you didn’t respect?  My guess is you answered both of these questions with a resounding “never” response.  Let’s face it, the act of buying is an emotional process regardless if it’s B2B or B2C.  There is just as much personal risk in a B2B buying decision as there is in B2C and perhaps even more so since the buyers job could be on the line if they make a poor purchasing decision.

Invest your time getting to know your prospect and your customers.  What drives them?  How do they define success?  What risks keep them up at night?  Which aspects of their business are they keening focused on changing?  What areas are they worried about that they don’t fully understand?  How will their decision to buy or not buy from you affect them personally?  If your solution saves their business money they could be viewed a hero, but if the solution doesn’t deliver as advertised it could cost them dearly.

Tune in.  Listen to what your customer is telling you.  Be both observant and open-minded.  And forget looking for that magic pill that guarantees better close rates.  Really…if that were possible would we need 6,000 different books and authors offering to tell us how?  Remember, Sales is all about people.  And people buy from people.  Invest genuinely in developing relationships with people and watch as your results improve.

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