Close That Sale Already!
If you’re in sales (and guess what you? you are, if you’re in business), you know the value of:
- getting through to the decision maker efficiently,
- what a little face-time can achieve,
- closing the deal promptly, and
- shortening the sales cycle,
However, wherever and whenever possible. Sounds easy to some, but for those seasoned sales veterans out there who intimately know, it’s far, far from it.
I was recently at an awards dinner with several prominent business professionals sitting elbow to elbow as our achievements were applauded, photos were taken and new relationships were spawned. The gentleman sitting next to me overheard that I was working on a large client that he had just completed a sale with. “Oh, you’re working with those guys?” he asked. “They’re painful! P-a-i-n-f-u-l” he went on. “How long did it take for you to close the deal?!?!” “Eighteen months! Eighteen months!” he explained. “That’s how long it took me.” “Who are you speaking with? Where are you at?” “And, here is how I closed the sale,” he offered in the valuable fifteen minute conversation that followed. “Invaluable tips!” I thought. This fellow soldier might have just jumped on a grenade for me in my own sales fight saving me valuable time, money, anxiety and frustration with a few simple tips and important contacts. And, he did it all next to the executive I directly report to in a social setting, illustrating the difficulty in the work and the accomplishment to date having gotten this far, yet with an eventual close in the (near) distance.
Each seasoned sales guy and gal has their own bag of tricks for getting to a close fast and efficiently. They know their market and products; that’s a given. However, there are personal tactics that work at accomplishing objectives mentions above despite the size of the business, vertical channel, state of the economy, etc. I thought I’d share of few of my own that have worked over the years in hopes that it helps you with your own sales efforts. If executed correctly and with sincerity (don’t abuse them), they will help your sales efforts…
- The Ice Breaker. Sending along a collateral package via fed ex is a great way to get to an important decision maker and have your materials attended to, in most cases. What has worked for me is a formal one-page (no longer) executive letter, professional sales sheet/leave behind and a brochure (optional). It’s a little expensive ($5+ for the entire package + mailing) so be selective who you choose to execute this tactic with. Keep in mind, it’s likely to never reach the decision maker and/or be read. However, as an ice-breaker, you can follow up with the decision maker’s assistant the next week. Executing this tactic via priority mail/fed ex gives your materials; you, your business and your products/services a sense importance, priority, urgency and reason for immediate attention.
- “I’m in the area.” There’s nothing like an in-person meeting in a sales environment to help shorten the sales cycle and get to a close faster. Face-time allows the opportunity to establish a personal relationship. The client can see your eyes, feel your passion and focus on you, your business and your product/service. Think about it for a second… It is so much easier to say no to someone you have never met before. However, once you have met that someone in person the relationship becomes, uh, you guess it, more personal. So, face-time with your clients is absolutely critical. What? Your client does not have the time or does not want to meet with you? Don’t let that stop you. Carefully find out when he/she will be in the office and, in advance, say you’re going to be in the area (same city, office building, etc.) for an appointment with other clients. Ask if you can stop in for a quick introduction and/or lunch (everyone has to eat at some point) during your free time. Schedule the appointment in advance—never pop in on the client and/or put them on the spot—and couch it as informal as possible.
- The Executive Visit. If scheduling an “informal meeting” while “in the area for other appointments” does not work, you may try “The Executive Visit” tactic. By saying that your boss, or the company’s CEO will be in the area, and you’d like to make an introduction, it can easily play to your clients’ ego. In addition, it may allow for you to schedule the meeting with not only your client but the CEO of your client’s company, getting you and your business further on the radar. Once you have an executive sponsor within the company, you’ve essentially expanded your opportunities to close the sale. It also helps if your sales cycle is long as your client contact may change jobs in which case having other contacts up the food chain can sustain your work and box out any newcomers looking to grab your position.
- The Value of FREE. It doesn’t matter of environment you’re in, there’s something about the word FREE that garners immediate attention and interest. I recently had an opportunity to offer a free sampling of a service I provide to a select group of premier clients and prospects (that qualified, of course. Wink. Wink.). It was a great way to resurface cold or warm prospects, get them to try to product/service and extend an olive branch about working together. In addition, it illustrated how important they were (still are) to me and they appreciated that. “Thanks for thinking of me.” “We’d love to take you up on this.” “Oh, and by the way, we have a couple of projects we want to talk with you about,” is what I heard from one client that I threw this out to. Not bad. All it took was a little free something to move this one from the 25% to the 75% column in my pipeline. Not bad at all!
- The “Introduction” email. In trying to get to important decision makers, I have found that an email with the subject line “introduction” gets great traction for opens and response. It’s non soliciting, honest, sincere and elicits curiosity to read more (personal? Business? “Do I know this guy?”). I usually follow the email with information about myself, what I can offer and the opportunity to make a formal “introduction” in person and/or via phone, presenting my wares. Of course, I sprinkle in credibility statements and information about the client and company and how relevant our products/services are to their business; in other words what I can offer. The call to action and sense of urgency are very important here as the objective is to get a response. This tactic works well be coupled with the “I’m in the area,” “The Executive Visit.”
This is by no means an exhaustive list but should get you started on building your own bag of tricks for getting to a decision maker, securing face-time, closing the deal and shortening the sales cycle. Happy selling!
(if you have any sales tips/tricks of your own that you’d like to share, feel free to email me at abiasismartmarketingllccom)
About the Author
Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Naples, FL since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and has taught Marketing at New York University for over five years. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasismartmarketingllccom (abiasismartmarketingllccom) , visit www.smartmarketingllc.com or call 239.963.9396.