Getting Sales Done #12 – Action Part 3: Making the Close

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Alec Baldwin

This is it – the last in my series on Getting Sales Done. The previous eleven articles covered each step in David Allen’s Getting Things Done process and equated it to the processes of opportunity management. Others will add more articles on this topic from time to time, but for now, I’m CLOSING.

And I confess, the close is my least favorite part of the sales cycle. Don’t get me wrong, I close all the time, but unless it’s a natural flow from the probing I did in the beginning and the proving I did after understanding the sales environment, it’s an effort for me. Almost as if I have to adopt another persona and act the part of the salesman.

The good part is that it usually is, and should be, such a natural flow. The transition from proving to closing should be indiscernible, and the first Trial Close indistinguishable from any other of the questions you’ve asked so far or points you’ve made.

Trial close – that term may be new to you. It’s how you test the customer to see if they are ready to make a decision. Some processes call this “gaining commitment” but that is a little strong for my taste. It implies getting the actual sale, and that’s not what we’re doing at this early stage of the close process.

The first thing we need to discover: is the customer at the decision-making stage of his buying process? This is often uncertain – the customer may not even have made the conscious transition – and your tests should be designed to find out if he has, and move him along in the process.

So the trial close can (and probably should be) something simple, like addressing one issue. “So the quantum flow of our magilla seems to meet your most stringent requirements. I think that was the last question your technical team had. Does that complete your process so you can make your decision?”

Or, it might be more direct where the situation calls for it. “It looks like our magilla does everything you require. Are you ready to make your decision?”

In either, you’ve got two possible answers – yes or no. And that is the Trial part of the Trial Close. “Yes” means he’s ready and you can ask for the sale. “No” means there’s an obstacle, and you need to know what it is so you can devise a strategy to overcome it.

“No” means another Trial Close after you’ve devised and implemented the strategy. Let’s say the obstacle was money. There are lots of possible strategies, so you pick the value one. Your tactic might be, “Here’s a graph that shows our superior quantum flow rate means that you will save 13% in feed costs. That’s an ROI of 24% and will offset any capital cost differential in the first year alone.” And your trial close might be, “So in fact, our magilla is the low-cost solution. Do you agree?”

And so it goes until you get the sale, or the competition does.

And so I close. Be sure to take a look at all the articles in this series, and watch for the occasional one in the future.

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