How to close a deal

It occured to me that I am curretnly working with a number of clients, whose main issue focuses around how to close a deal. To sum up the conversations in one sentence:” If I am offereing such a great deal to help my customers, why aren’t these idiots taking me on board?”.

An article in this month’s Harvard Business Review goes a long way to address this point. (freedownload available). As with many such analyses, the three authors feel that sales professionals are starting their pitch from the wrong place. This is increasingly true in a world, where many purchase managers have already googled the answers to what they want and at what price. And the writers come up with three strategies

First, successful sales people concentrate their efforts on those companies, where decisions are made quickly and where a state of flux forces them to seek new insights. The latter allows the sales people greater influence than usual and the former ensures that effective action can be taken. Thus, the aim is to seek a client with an “emerging demand”, as opposed to something already “established”.

Second, it is essential to understand that even decision makers fall into categories, where “mobilizers” are more relevant than “advocates”. So sales teams should be looking to target go-getters, teachers and (surprisingly?) skeptics. These are the people who drive consensus and then ensure that something is carried out.

Finally, dynamic sales reps seek to “coach” the purchasing manger through their own decision making hierachy. They become involved, providing answers ahead of the game.

And where does this leave my own clients? One common theme pervades. They have not done enough background work. They are often so keen to make their pitch and lower prices in order to conclude a sale that they have failed to gather other vital data or read the signs, as described above. Thus, in the past, when it comes for their own customers to make a choice, my guys had rarely been able to sign off. Ouch!

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