The most important part of any business, no matter how big or small the business may be, is always sales.
And the most important part of the sales process is one’s ability to seal the deal.
So you need someone (or some people) who know how to get the signature/handshake/verbal agreement otherwise there’s no money for anyone else to get paid, employees and shareholders alike.
End of story.
We are lucky enough to have a team of excellent closers at Heat, and I spoke with each of them individually about what they felt were important qualities to have.
Each had a very different perspective on what it takes, but here are a few common themes:
You need to be able to ask for a commitment, usually in the form of a particular quantity. “So can I sign you up for five? How many can I put you down for? So can I put you down for next week?”
You’d be surprised at how many people fail to be able to ask for a commitment, usually out of fear of rejection.
Our closers know that nothing is personal and aren’t afraid to seek that ‘moment of truth’ – is my pitch/offer/negotiation going to pay off? Even if they get a “no” at least there is no grey area. At least then you know where you stand. This brings me to my next point.
Objection handling skills
If a customer says no (which they often do) it is the closer’s job to find out the reasons why the person doesn’t feel it will work.
One of our salespeople commented that “often the reason they tell you isn’t the real reason” either.
Of course money is usually a factor, so work out how you could get it but in different ways: “What about if I invoiced you on the first of next month?”
“What about if I gave you the stock tomorrow so you have some time to generate some income?” Be prepared to give them a trial pack to sell through first.
Be an artist
Paint the customer a picture and sell them on it: Visual cues, visual cues, visual clues.
Walk them through it, literally. If you’re selling a car, encourage them to sit in it, talk about their drive to work, show them where they can put their coffee mug, adjust the seat to suit them and program it in while they’re watching so it is ‘ready to go’ for them.
For our business (cosmetics), talk to the pharmacist about the importance of the placement of products, talk about their current range, evaluate their range, empathise with them, hypothesise with them (“What would it look like if we did this? How would you feel about that?”), build the story.
Be a problem solver
The key to selling to anyone, as one salesperson pointed out, is to create the need.
The person may not realise that they have this need. However, it is the closer’s job to identify the need, point it out to the buyer, and swiftly follow up with the available solution to fill the need.
Use a ‘funnel’ approach: Do you think that [insert category name] is important to your business?
How are you doing in [category] at the moment? Oh, that’s not too good. How would you like to be doing in personal care?
How is your competitor next door doing? How often are you getting serviced by our competitor? Ooh, not too often. How do you feel about that?
Tactics never go astray. Have at least 10 tactics practised and ready to go. Be able to comfortably create urgency e.g. “only available today”. Offer a trial close e.g. “if you bought 120 instead of 100 I’d be able to give you 20% off”.
Know how to “nibble”. After the deal, confirm with the buyer that “I assume this means you’ll also be sponsoring X”.
There are millions of books out there waiting to be read on the topic of tactics. The important thing here when using tactics is that you have to know your numbers and be confident in terms of what you can offer – know what is the absolute minimum you will accept.