Are you making these 7 mistakes that are stopping you from closing sales? Needs analysis and qualification are far more important than a hard close in modern sales, but that doesn’t mean you no longer have to ask for the business.
The information you learned from your prospect at the start of the sales process only gets you 95% of the way to a sale. That last 5% — negotiation, pricing discussions, and the close — can feel more pressure-filled and stressful than everything that came before it. That’s especially true if you’re making any of the closing mistakes below, which will unnecessarily prolong your sales cycle at best, and derail the deal completely at worst.
7 Sales Closing Mistakes to Stop Making Right Now
1) A lack of trust.
If the prospect doesn’t trust you, odds are, they won’t buy from you.
Yes, I know – we’ve all seen companies buy from sales people they don’t trust. Maybe you’ve even done this yourself from time to time. Think about this statistic: in 98% of cases where a sale is transacted in a low or no trust relationship, the client will never place another order. Instead, they shop around for the next best deal whenever they need to reorder. In high trust relationships, the exact opposite is true. On average, 100% of clients in high trust relationships reorder without even considering another option. As we all know, repeat orders are the single most effective way to decrease transaction time and increase profits. In short, building trust is critical to successful selling. So at every step of the sales process, ask yourself: “is what I’m doing right now eroding trust, or is it enhancing or building trust with my prospects?”
2) No money.
There are really two potential problems here. Either the client really can’t afford the purchase, or you’re not talking to a true decision maker. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it’s the latter. Senior decision makers can find the money to purchase your solution if they’re convinced they need it. Middle management can only spend what they’ve already been allocated. If your prospect tells you that they have “no money,” ask yourself honestly if you’re selling high enough up the decision-making food chain. Negotiating with the wrong people is a waste of time. They won’t be able to tell you whether a decision can be made or what it will be. Bring in all necessary stakeholders and have them up to speed on progress before you start talking about pricing and terms.
3) Not closing at every step of the sales process
When I wrote in the introduction of this blog that closing comprises the last 5% of a sales cycle, it was a slight over generalisation. While formal closing and negotiations don’t happen until the end of a sales cycle, the best salespeople build in small closes right from the start.
Qualification goes both ways — you should make it a priority that as you’re determining whether your buyer is a good fit, you’re also looking for signs that they want to move forward. At the end of every call or conversation, set a clear next step and ensure your prospect is committed to it. If they seem to be waffling or unsure, don’t be afraid to flat-out ask what’s holding them back. If they’re going to walk away from the deal anyway, it’s better to find out sooner, not later.
4) Not creating a sense of urgency
Purchasing decisions are driven by two things: Need and timing. If a need is great but other priorities are more important, the sale can get delayed. If a need is great but the prospect doesn’t understand why they need to address it right now, things will also slow down.
Identifying pain isn’t enough to close the sale. You have to create the right timing as well, and that means creating a sense of urgency. Explaining to your prospect not only why they should act but why they should also act now is the only way to close a deal.
5) Not knowing the prospect’s decision criteria
Asking for the business is a way to signal to prospects that the end of the sales process has arrived. Of course, you also need to be aware when it’s time to ask for it. Asking too soon makes the prospect feel rushed, while asking too late will make the sale last longer than it has to.
At the beginning of every sales process, make sure you find out what specific criteria the decision maker needs to make a purchase. Do they need to follow a certain review or legal process? Do they need a specific set of features or a specific business case to be built? Find out these criteria and fulfil them methodically so a natural endpoint becomes obvious.
6) Not understanding their bottom line
Making a sale isn’t everything. It has to be mutually beneficial to both parties, and that means not compromising on price or payment terms to a point where you’re harming your company. Be accommodating where you can and help your buyer out if they’re genuinely willing to commit to a purchase, but don’t agree to terms that are so far from your company’s bottom line that you’d be better off walking away.
7) Hiding behind your collateral.
Nobody ever built a great career just by sending out collateral after every first contact, and then waiting for the sales to come rolling in. Yet so many sales people still hide behind the material they send out, thinking they’re making progress with a prospect when they really haven’t got a clue what he or she actually needs. Surely you’ve used the “just send me some of your information” ruse to get off the phone so why do you keep falling for this trap yourself? Never send information without doing a qualification first. If you have a simple product and a sales cycle you can measure in days instead of weeks or months, sending information may be the right thing to do. If so, do yourself a favour and send as many testimonials as you can that might be relevant to your prospect. These testimonials are the proof your clients need to trust you. No one or nothing sells better than another customer saying that they’re happy they did business with you.
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