Salespeople often work themselves into a frenzy about The Close. The run-up to The Presentation involves revision after revision and rehearsal after rehearsal. The Day is preceded by sleepless nights and The Hour by sweaty palms. The bigger the price tag, the sweatier the palms and the more preemptive is the entire process of preparation. And, sales managers who ask about it every day for a week serve only to amplify the anxiety.
Okay, so maybe I oversold it. But you know there is a lot riding on the submission of a big proposal, and you take it darn seriously. It takes a lot of your time and attention—your bandwidth, to use the latest jargon—and you know that a big-enough mistake could deep-six the whole thing. Where might the mistake be? The price? The delivery schedule? The payment terms? The third-party supplier? The measurement or monitoring? Who knows?
You should know. You can know.
The truth about closing is that it never happens all at once. Your effort to make it happen all at once—to focus all the decisions into one document and one day—is like trying to push an elephant through the eye of a needle. You’re defying nature, asking for the impossible. It’s why the prospect almost invariably says… all together now (because all of you know what the prospect almost invariably says)… “I need some time to think about it.”
The prospect knows what you too should know. You’re not asking for A Decision; you’re asking for A Set of Decisions. Unless all you’re selling is a simple commodity, for the prospect to give an overall Yes to what you’re proposing, he has to be able to say yes to each element, each aspect of it. He has to think through all the angles, not just the pieces and parts you presented so clearly and persuasively in your formal proposal, but a lot of other issues and considerations known only to him. These little decisions are interdependent and many of them must happen in sequence in order for you to get the Yes you’re seeking. So, of course, he “needs some time to think about it.”
If you looked at closing as a process rather than an event, you’d have fewer sleepless nights and sweaty palms, and your prospect would need a lot less time to say Yes. The truth about closing is that it never happens all at once. The notion that it does is a myth that probably developed because we put all the pieces and parts into a single document called a proposal. But the world’s best salespeople know that the proposal document should not be a collection of decisions to be made, but rather a summary of decisions already made!
The world’s best salespeople have relocated the proposal from the middle of the sales process to the end. Rather than gather up all the decisions to be made at once—as if that were even possible!—sales pros work shoulder-to-shoulder with their prospect in building the plan. Important decisions begin life as half-baked ideas or trial balloons, and they occur at natural points in the discussion. They take the mystery and the risk out of the process—for their client and themselves. They turn The Close from a looming giant mountain into a series of no-sweat molehills. They sell interactively, and often get their Yes before ordinary salespeople get their Maybe. For them, selling interactively often happens fast, with frequent conversations and collaborations, some in-person, some by phone, some through email. By the time it’s all on paper, the prospect has already vetted, problem-solved, and approved everything.
Your sales life can be like this, too—when you decide to sell interactively. It's all explained in Close Like the Pros. Download Chapter One for free right here!