Are you one of these people who come away from meeting a prospect with….ummm errr – nothing? What! You spent all that time with them, built rapport, got on famously, asked great questions but failed to close the sale.
Perhaps trying to close the sale wasn’t the right thing to do!
1. The prospect wasn’t ready
The prospect wasn’t ready. Most likely what happened is that you didn’t match the buying cycle with the selling cycle (Bi-Sell-Cycle). If this happens it means the wheels weren’t turning together. You need to match where the buyer is on the buying cycle. They might have been at the beginning of the buying cycle where they have a need and you might have been at the fifth stage of the selling cycle trying to sell your products and services. In other words, you weren’t on the same page. You must match the buying process with the selling process.
Go back to the buying and selling cycle (Bi-Sell-Cycle™) and match the buying cycle with the selling cycle so the wheels turn together. This means uncovering buyer needs through the art of asking effective questions. You may need to arrange another meeting to go through this process.
2. There is no tension to buy
Buyers are motivated by two things only. To avoid pain or gain pleasure. Pain for a buyer usually manifests itself by way of a problem in their their business. Symptoms that will alert you that a buyer has a problem might be declining sales, a budget deficit, unhappy customers, low employee retention rates, outdated technology, an under-performing website, high cost of sales, high labor costs or even increased customer complaints.
An opportunity will allow the buyer to gain the rewards which might be to increase profits, increase their customer base, improve a process, improve customer loyalty, increase cash flow, acquire more profitable customers or even stimulate new business opportunities.
They might not be aware that they even have a problem or opportunity unless it’s pointed out to them by a third-party like a sales person. That’s what asking layered questions are designed to do. To uncover hidden needs the buyer might not aware of.
If they aren’t aware that they have a problem or there is an opportunity to improve their operations, then there is no tension for them to buy your products or services.
Ask ASBP (As Is, Should Be, Barrier and Pay Out) questions to uncover buyer needs and explore the impact or consequences if the buyer allows the problem to persist or the opportunity to go unrealized. This is what creates tension. Arrange another meeting where you can go through the second and third stages of the Bi-Sell-Cycle™. By taking this approach you are not only likely to create tension for them to buy, you will also unlock what their target goals are so you will be in a position to tailor your solution accordingly.
3. They aren’t the decision maker
If the prospect is not the decision maker, they have to go away and discuss the details of your meeting with the actual decision makers. If this is the case you won’t be able to close the sale on the spot. Alternatively they might be the decision maker but there is a process they need to go through before committing to a purchase. They may have to quarantine money in their budget or even wait until the budget cycle comes round as the budget is already committed to other projects or purchases.
During the sales meeting, ask these two questions.
“Apart from you, who else is involved in the decision-making process?”
“Tell me about the decision-making process and how you go about making a decision?”
Asking these questions will help you understand who the decision makers are and what the decision-making process is. Arrange another meeting where you can get in front of the decision makers.
4. You didn’t qualify the prospect
Not all leads means a prospect will buy from you. A lead is just a lead until such time as you qualify them. Qualifying means they are in the market to buy from you – now. The prospect may genuinely not be in the market to buy your products or services or they simply can’t afford it. Sometimes you might not know this until such time as you meet with them. Ideally you want to qualify them before meeting with them which will save you time. However, just because they aren’t in the market now, doesn’t mean to say they might not be in the market in the future.
Make sure you end the meeting on a positive note. Continue to build with the prospect and stay in touch. Put them on your database and send them regular updates, useful links or newsletters that is relevant to their business. One day they might be in the market and ready to buy or, if you continue to maintain rapport and stay in contact, they may refer you to someone who is. Keep them in your network.
5. You failed to create a next step
Just because you didn’t close the sale on the spot, doesn’t mean you can’t close the sale in the future. You just have to do a little bit more work first. It may not mean the end of the road. You have to ask to go to the next step – it won’t necessarily happen without asking. Sometimes you need to meet with a prospect several times before you are in a position to close the sale.
End a meeting on a positive note with a way forward. Buyers don’t always know what they want or why. It’s as if they are lost and your role is to point them in the right direction. The right direction may be:
- Arrange another meeting
- Prepare a proposal
- Make a presentation
- Do all of the above
- Keep them in your network
Regardless, you want to come away with something. If you need to arrange another meeting, do it on the spot and agree on a time, day and date commitment. Make sure all the decision makers will be there.
If you prepare a proposal, let the prospect know when they expect to see the proposal. How long it will take to prepare and how you will deliver it. It might be via email or in person. If in person, again arrange the time, day and date. You will need a copy for each decision maker.
If you are going to make a presentation, make sure all the decision makers will be there and set the time, day and date. This allows you to continue to control the process which is what you want because the prospect won’t have the same degree of urgency as you and you may lose them.
If all else fails, you want to stay in touch and keep them in your network. Come away with permission to keep them on your database and stay in regular contact with them.
Remember, sometimes you have to meet with a prospect three or four times before you can actually close a sale. Be persistent and keep following up. Don’t give up after the first meeting. If you can’t close the sale, at least come away with something.
On a final note
If you can’t close a sale on the spot, come away with another meeting, a proposal, a presentation or a newsletter signup. If you do you are more likely to sell the prospect down the track.
In A Nutshell
To get prospects to buy from you:
- Qualify the prospect
- Follow a sales process like the Bi-Sell-Cycle™
- Create tension by exploring the impact or consequences of allowing problems to persist or opportunities to slip by them
- Find out who the decision makers are and what their decision making process is
- Come away with a next step like arrange another meeting, prepare a proposal, make a presentation or stay in touch