’Tis the season of the double-edged sword.
On the one hand, it’s exciting to look forward to the holiday season. On the other, the end of the quarter and the year loom large, with the finish line already in sight.
To call it a chaotic time is an understatement. And with so much going on, it’s easy to fall prey to the notion that busy means productive — in reality, there’s no greater trap in Q4.
After all, it’s far better to know on November 2 that a deal won’t close and move on than to find out on December 31. Now is the time to be strategic, deliberate and honestly evaluate your opportunities to determine where you’ll have the most impact.
The Secret to Closing Sales
The big secret is there is no secret. That’s because closing is not a discrete skill set. You don’t lack courage, training or a certain technique — you already have all of the tools you need to win.
When deals stall, it’s because something was missed earlier in the sales cycles. It seemed small at the time, but now it’s a barrier to buying. This is good news!
All you need is a checklist that enables you to efficiently review deals and determine where the opportunity went out of alignment. Let’s run through the top 10 “gotchas” that cause sales professionals to stumble.
- Can they buy?
It’s easy to cling to an enthusiastic supporter within the target company and tempting to take them at their word when they tell you that everything is on track. However, if you’re not engaging with a prospect who has the power to buy, your deal is ultimately at risk.
- Will they change?
No matter what you’re selling, you’re selling change — and that’s always a little frightening. Is there a clear and compelling reason for the prospect to change?
- Are you differentiated?
Being different is great, but you’re never truly differentiated until you connect your solution to the prospect’s unique business issues.
- What’s in it for them?
People make rational decisions for emotional reasons — what about your solution improves their life?
- Do they believe in the ROI?
Value is customer-specific. Set the ROI on unshakable grounds and ensure they believe it.
- How do they buy?
How many signatures will be on that PO? How long will the contract take to get through procurement? Make an effort to thoroughly understand every step along the way.
- Is there a plan?
Do you have a mutual plan in writing? The most important word in that sentence is mutual.
- Is the timing right?
Year-end budget dollars may need to be used, or expenses may need to be pushed into next quarter. Get creative with terms and conditions if possible to make it easy for them to buy.
- Any objections?
Nothing stalls a sale like an unaddressed objection — keep in mind that they’re typically requests for more information in disguise.
- What are you not thinking of?
Is there an internal deadline that legal has for reviewing contracts? When will everyone who needs to sign go on vacation for the holidays? Better to ask now and adjust your timeline accordingly.
I encourage you to think of a specific opportunity in your pipeline that you want to close this year and evaluate it using the questions above — you might be surprised what you find.
If you want to dive deeper into sales advice for finishing the quarter and the year strong, check out:
- Our Nov. 18 webinar: “Forecasting Checklist to Close the Quarter & Year”
- “How Sales Leaders Can Approach Coaching to Close” in the Forbes
- “How to Sell to C-level Executives” in the LinkedIn Sales Blog
Until next time, happy selling,