The one constant we all share is time.
You’ll never have enough hours in the day, and after spending far longer than I should have on one particular prospect, I discover today they’ve done (another) 180 on me.
In the last 3 months I’ve closed, unclosed, closed and unclosed this same prospect multiple times. Investing far more time than I normally would have with one client, because I was making a rookie mistake. I was listening, but I wasn’t reading between the lines.
I should have known better.
I’d convinced myself the client was a sure thing (after all, he REALLY needed this product), and the fact he was saying all the right things kept stringing me along.
I didn’t realize I’d been “friend-zoned,” and yes, perhaps they may, eventually decide it’s in their best interests to buy this product in the future, I made a call to cut my losses.
Telling them, they’ve got everything they need to decide, and the balls in their court. I’d be happy to setup an implementation call once they’ve ordered, and assist to get them started.
No more sales calls, no more wasted time. Because prospects like these may not ever buy, and if you want to close more deals, you need to get focused on the right metrics.
Reflecting on what went wrong with this call, I’d like to give you an insight into how this “should have” gone down in an ideal world.
Pre-call: Get your energy levels up
If you’re flat and boring on a sales call, you can bet your prospect is going to hear it through the line. You can tell when someone is bright and bubbly, much like you can tell when you’re at the end of a day and you’re juts grinding the phones. You need high energy.
What I like to do is simple. Stand up, and get moving a little. I do all of my sales calls on my feet, it’s the easiest way I’ve found to improve my “phone voice” and make energetic calls.
Pre-call: Know your agenda and objectives
I’m a bit old school in that I like to work from a notebook when I’m at my desk. Sales is really just a process, and if you’re not walking a prospect through a pipeline they’re never going to get to that final “yes” you need to close. You need to map it out.
My approach is pretty simple, writing out a rough outline before each call so I can tick off key items as we discuss them, and ensure I don’t miss anything.
On-the-call: Disqualify new prospects fast
Now, you definitely don’t want to be spending too much time with a lead who isn’t in a position to buy. Same goes for rates, I hardly ever jump on a call unless the prospect has a rough idea of what my projects cost, so there’s no blindside once we start talking money.
In hindsight, where this call went off-track was timing. I should have pushed harder in the early stages to ensure the timing was right, and I would have saved 10+ hours once I realized they weren’t yet ready to pull the trigger.
On-the-call: Slow down and stop talking
Once you’re reasonably sure this prospect is a good lead, it’s important to slow down and start listening. Hearing what the client is struggling with and the pain points that really matter. Listen and learn what a client needs to hear before they’ll let you close them.
When I say stop talking I don’t mean be mute, you still need to keep your prospect moving through the process, without skipping items in the agenda. Your job is to probe, ask questions, discover if you’re speaking to a decision maker, or any other obstacles to overcome.
On-the-call: Adding a sense of urgency
Just because you’ve got a great offer, and a great product, it doesn’t mean a customer will be convinced to buy right then and there. You need to add tension, a sense of urgency that invokes the fear-of-missing-out and pushes clients to make a faster decision.
Every good offer should have exclusivity, whether it’s a certain number of customers you can onboard in a month, a cut-off date for a particular deal, or a wealth of bonuses available should a prospect decide to act quickly.
On-the-call: Asking for the close
Here’s where many sales people struggle (myself included), because the only way you’re going to make a sale is if you ask for a close. There’s a perfect time of course, once you’ve given everything they need to decide, overcome all of their obstacles, you need to ask.
I usually say something like this, “Considering all you’ve told me and to just wrap up our conversation a little here, I believe what we have is going to be a great fit. What’s the next steps to take to get us started…?”
After-the-call: Put a bow on it
Immediately following up the call, it’s a good idea to send a quick email that just wraps up everything you discussed. And it also serves as a reminder of the next steps, with the links or any contracts/etc., either provided immediately (or informs when to expect them).
For me, I set 5-10 mins aside after a sales call to type this up, nothing too fancy but it helps to finalize the conversation we just had, while pushing through the sale. If you’ve ever got an email from me you’ll notice liberal use of terms like “mate” and “cheers,” you don’t need to get too formal with this, just type like you speak.
After the call: Pitch someone else
There’s an old sales movie that talks about “always be closing” but I actually think pitching is just as important. Once you get off the call with that prospect, it doesn’t mean your outreach stops. Keep promoting, keep pushing content, keep calling ideal clients.
If you’ve only got one or two leads, you’re going to be trying to close in desperation. Trouble is, clients can almost smell the neediness, and that’s not going to help you to win their business. The more pitching you do, you’ll realize there’s plenty of fish in the sea.
After the call: Know when to walk away
Finally, you’re going to have to listen to your gut. Sometimes a deal comes off out-of-the-blue, while other times you push hard and you’re getting nowhere. If you’re working too hard on a client, or needing to “sell” too much, perhaps it’s time to stop.
Consider where your line in the sand is drawn, so you know when to walk away. In my case, I should have left this prospect to their own devices the first time they changed their mind, instead of trying to re-convert them. In the end, it just proved a massive waste of time.
If you want to make more sales, you need to follow the right steps. It starts with the right attitude and identifying the right prospects, and once you’ve made these adjustments to your sales calls you’ll be spending far less time with the wrong prospects. You’ll be closing more deals.
Keep up the great work,