The lost art of closing

Welcome to this week’s recipe for sales development success. In my latest video, I discuss a typical SDR’s challenges when it comes to closing a call; likening it to a lost art of hibachi cooking. Check it out here if you haven’t done so already.

Closing is such an important skill, not only for a successful salesperson, but for anyone in business that’s trying to achieve a certain outcome off the back of a conversation. With this in mind, I thought it would be beneficial to continue the discussion, and teach you how to go in for the kill vegan-style!

Open up the kitchen cupboard

The first challenge to overcome when closing is actually the art of opening up. Usually, when you close the kitchen cupboard you’ve decided what you’re having to eat… or you’ve just given up! What you’re really looking to do is open it up and invite the prospect to see what’s inside. Consider this: an SDR’s ‘close’ is only really the opening of a sales cycle. It’s the first of many conversations with your decision-maker.

The attitude that salespeople need to ABC (always be closing), and therefore need to close as quickly as possible, often leads salespeople to come across with an air of desperation; serving to be more pushy than consultative. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “you won’t close on 100% of the calls you don’t offer a close on”, and this is true to an extent, but it’s massively oversimplifying the situation. Instead, the phrase should be “always aim to close when appropriate, and once a level of interest is established.”

A double-edged knife

A typical sales call should be transparent. People are put off when they sense underhanded sales tactics, so embrace honesty. “Yes, this is a sales call and yes I think it’s going to be worth your time.” Use it to your advantage. It is a great confidence to take into a conversation, and won’t leave the prospect feeling like they’re being ‘tricked’ into a meeting.

That said, a transparent sales call is like a double-edged kitchen knife; it can hinder you. The reason this ‘obviousness’ can hurt you in a conversation is because a prospect may be unwilling to provide certain pieces of information because they’re wise to the fact that as soon as they tell you, you’ll smell the delicious opportunity to close and jump right in for the kill.

For example – consider what information you need to know to ensure that a prospect is a good fit for your offering. Now imagine the prospect gives you that exact answer. What do you do? If the answer is close, close, close, then you’ve smelt the steak and fallen into the classic trap of ABC.

A simple tactic to avoid displaying this kind of carnivorous, and somewhat desperate, attack is by going vegan… stick with me here!

Resisting Temptation

Just like any hungry salesperson, you want to schedule a meeting and successfully close a call. But, as a vegan, you’ve learnt the art of resisting temptation. You’re not jumping in at the first opportunity to close. Plus, the smell of fresh meat doesn’t really do it for you.

Here’s my top tips for going vegan on your opportunities to close…

1. Keep your mouth closed

Don’t say a word when you first smell a sale.

When a prospect provides the information that tells you they’re a good lead, it’s usually followed by a natural pause in the conversation. This is where a blood-thirsty salesperson would pounce. But a vegan knows how to resist the temptation and keeps their mouth closed. So keep your words brief and merely acknowledge the prospect with an “mhmm” or “sure” and let them pick up the responsibility for continuing the conversation. I’ve had many calls where the prospect actually suggests I schedule a meeting using this technique. And – for the times they do stay silent or ask “Are you still there? What do you think?” – read on.

2. Choose a meat-free alternative

And by meat-free I mean motiveless.

Keep the spotlight focused on the prospect by asking a question that seemingly has no motive once they’ve offered up your cue to close. I like to do this by slowly repeating what they’ve said as if I’m thoughtfully considering their answer and then following up with something like: “how are you finding that?”, or “can you explain that a little further?”

This approach feels a lot more measured and leaves less margin for error. It feels like a sale. And remember – when they’ve finished talking – keep your mouth closed!

Bon Appetit!

So there you have it! That’s how to resist the temptation of a tasty opportunity, and close a sales call properly, like a vegan.

If you would like more tips on sales development success, then join me next time for Kitchen’s Tuesday Takeaways!

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