3 Secrets for Closing More Sales

improve your sales, close a sale, increase your salesIn our Monday is for Marketing feature I like to offer tips to help you with marketing and to help you improve your sales. Here I want to share 3 secrets about how to close a sale.

To Close a Sale Requires Emotion

People buy on emotion and justify with logic. This is a foundational truth that everyone in sales must understand! Now I’m not saying that people are impulsive. I’m not saying that people are irrational. And I’m not saying that people don’t think about their purchases (though these things may be true at times.) I’m simply saying that people typically do not take action unless they “feel” something. Some pain, some dissatisfaction, some desire, some passion, some hunger; they feel some emotion; they may think about it; but at the end of the process it is the emotion that will cause them to pull the trigger and make the purchase. I have observed that even highly technical or highly analytical people will typically not take the plunge unless there is some emotion moving them to buy. To improve your sales you need to relationally engage with the prospect, gain clarity around the prospect’s needs and their reasons for buying, and then help the prospect feel the satisfaction or the pain inherent within them.

To Close a Sale Requires a Process

Selling is not about personality, it is about process. You can improve your sales by improving your process. In traditional sales training we were told to identify the target and make the kill. However, I have found this approach to be less effective, and it often leads to buyer’s remorse which is bad for business long-term. It is far more effective to think of selling as a process. It has a beginning point, stages along the way, and never ends until the sale is made. A good sales process will engage the prospect and inform the seller. It will help people make good buying decisions. Remember, people buy for their reasons not yours. A good process surfaces their reasons, identifies the emotion, and delivers an ideal solution. If done well, this process will almost close itself.

Practice the “Ping”

Finally, I encourage sales professionals to “practice the ping.” A “ping” is a pulse of sound in active sonar. It’s also a network utility that computer technicians use to see if other computers are reachable. I even hear people using the word today as a way to request an outreach (e.g. “Hey ping me next week when you get back in town.”) My favorite example comes from the old movie The Hunt for Red October. In this cold war classic the crew of an American nuclear submarine (USS Dallas) find themselves less than one hundred yards from a Soviet nuclear submarine (Red October) near the bottom of the North Atlantic ocean. Alec Baldwin, a CIA officer on board the Dallas, acts on a hunch that the Soviet captain wants to defect to the U.S. and begs the American officers to not fire on the Red October. After a few tense moments, the American captain reluctantly agrees, and instead of firing they attempt to communicate with the Soviet sub. Cautiously the American captain sends a coded message asking if they wish to communicate. Sure enough the Soviet commander responds by sending a single sonar “ping.” In Navy terms, this is a “yes,” the equivalent of waving a white flag of surrender.

How Will This Help Improve Your Sales?

The average sale requires five closing attempts before a prospect is ready to make an emotional commitment. However, most sales people don’t make it to the fifth attempt because they get discouraged and they get tired of rejection. As you have your selling conversation be prepared to send a “ping.” A ping is simply a soft question to measure the prospects readiness to make a decision or at least take the next step. Then wait and see if they “ping” you back. For example, you may meet someone new at an event. As you get acquainted you notice that the conversation is proceeding very warmly. What do you do? You send a ping by saying something like this: “I would enjoy learning more about how you serve your clients and I would love to tell you more about how I help my clients. There may be a way we can help each other. Would you be open to grabbing a cup of coffee sometime?” You haven’t asked for the sale and you haven’t asked for a referral. You’ve simply signaled your interest by sending a single ping. Now most people would respond positively so then you’re ready to send another ping like: “Is there a day or a week that might be good for you, and do you have a particular place you like to go?” If they are genuinely interested, the conversation will probably lead to an appointment. If not, they will probably give you a non-committal response like, “I’m not sure. I’ll have to get back to you later.” A non-committal response in this type of scenario usually indicates that the “ping” has not been returned. So, you move on. I will sometimes talk to an executive or a business owner and find us in a deep conversation about their business or organization.  At a logical place in the conversation I will typically ping them by saying something like: “Would you be interested in getting together sometime for a strategy session?” If they ping back it will lead to an appointment. If not, I move on. By practicing the ping I quickly measure if a conversation has the potential to move toward a sale. I am confident that these 3 secrets will help you close more sales. And, by the way, if you’re in the Houston area and you have any interest in getting together to work on your business or organization, ping me! I’m always happy to give a complimentary hour to help business owners and executives.

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