Archives for posts with tag: Closing

I must admit to a certain frisson of pleasure at the closing of things. Mundane, inconsequential things.

Let me give you examples. That feeling when you load up the dishwasher – surely the single greatest invention of all time – put the cleaning tab in, hit the ‘on’ button and close up the lid. So satisfying.

It’s same when you close the heated oven door after carefully preparing your dish for cooking. Here’s two more for you: Closing and locking the house front door at the end of a day, ideally a Friday, when everyone’s home, last thing at night. Closing the car door when all the family is inside after a long walk somewhere, ready for the drive home.

I know, the last ones have serious womb syndrome about them, but you see parallels in the working world. Submitting that final report, either paper-based or electronically, is a rush too. Signing off on an initiative, a project, a job even, come on, you must feel it too. Sales people – closing a deal! How good is that feeling?!

Perhaps the ultimate work-related frisson of closure is the day you fully retire, as long as what you have lined up after it is better. This post harks back to a recent post about the circle of life, which makes them both all the more valid I think.

The Sixth Selling Stage – it’s a bit of tongue-twister! On the plus side, you’ve done all the hard work and now you need to see it through. So far in this series on setting out a typical B2B selling process we’ve covered knowing your addressable marketdefining the sales opportunity, understanding your prospective customer’s objectivesdemonstrating that you can best give them what they need, and zeroing in on the deal.

At this corresponding sixth buying stage your customer is on a high state of alert as they cover all the bases before committing their hard won funds to you. At this stage they’re looking to invest and implement, which means you’re looking to deliver, both the order and the solution.

In order to deliver the order to your company, your customer needs to sign on the dotted line and get the paperwork housing their signature back to you. Here are some things to help get the signed contract back.

– Check nothing has changed and they’re still planning to go ahead

– Take responsibility for being the conduit between your legal people and theirs. You’re paid by the selling organisation, but you need a fair deal for both parties for the long term benefits to accrue. Don’t be afraid to fight your customer’s corner as well as your own

– Ask when they expect to send the signed contract back and plan a lead-up process accordingly. If you’re calling them at 4:30pm on the Friday it’s due in, you’ve lost any buffer you could have built in

– Confirm how the implementation is going to work once you get the order and reiterate how much you’re looking forward to working with them

– Stress that you will be monitoring the implementation phase. You’re not going to disappear, merrily cartwheeling to your next deal. Your customer will be expecting continuity and consistency from your company and you’re the one to deliver it

Once the order is in, it’s time to roll out the implementation. Of course, you’ll have kept your operations people in the loop and the resources earmarked to roll straight away. This is where the rubber meets the road, and you should work hard to make sure that the implementation and change management processes are delivered on brief, on time, and on budget.

I wrote recently about asking for the order. It’s a pretty fundamental part of selling, and the good sales people delight in it, whereas the less good dread it.

The key to asking this question at the right time is this: is your customer ready to buy? They will never commit to the sale until they’re ready to buy. Some sales people ask for the order too early, get frustrated and tick off their prospect. Some ask too late, and go hungry.

Just as you follow a sales process, so your customer follows a buying process. Your sales process should be aligned to your customers’ buying process, not the other way round. You can’t sell to someone until you know how they want to buy.

When you guide your customer through all the steps you know they need to take to make the purchase, you know they’re ready to buy.

Why not use this as your closing question: ‘Are You Ready to Buy?’ They can only say yes or versions of no. If no, you have more to do to get them to be ready.

A lot of people don’t like selling. They avoid careers in sales. They love community and people and conversation, but something doesn’t feel right  to them about selling.

Even some people in selling don’t like selling. By which I mean they don’t like the bit at the end of selling.

The bit at the end is asking for the order. It should be the easiest part of the process. You’ve done all the work after all.

‘OK, if I’ve covered all your questions, and you’re happy, can we proceed with your order?’ This goes two ways:

– ‘Yes, I think we’re good to go.’ Job done, pretty much.

– ‘Erm, no, I don’t think so, not yet.’ To which you follow with. OK, no problem. What is outstanding before we can move forward?’ And so on. Until you get the deal, or you lose it through being outsold, or there never was a deal – in which case you didn’t qualify properly – or you never should have been in the deal to start with  – in which you didn’t qualify properly, or it’s a tender, which is a different kettle of fish altogether.

Asking for the order is a part of the process you come to hate if you haven’t done your job well enough.

I used to work for a guy who had his own family-owned and -run design and print business. He loved asking for the order and he was good at it. He used to joke: ‘OK so we’re ready to go at £9K? Great, I’ll put the order through for £10K, and we’ll invoice you for £11K.’ Lovely stuff.