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When does the close start?

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 9/16/16 12:45 PM

Ok, before you read on, answer the question for yourself. When does the close start in your sales process?

For example, is it:

  • When they ask for a trial?
  • When you identify pain points?
  • When you get their timeline?
  • When you confirm budget and authority?

Or as one new client recently answered, when you ask if they are ready to buy?

Ok, got your answer? Ready?


It’s none of the above. It’s not whatever part of your process you identified- unless it is the very beginning.

The close starts when you say hello. Or, if you believe the idea that buyers are anywhere from 60-90% through their process before they talk to a salesperson- well before that if you are a reactive rather than proactive salesperson.

The “close” is not the time to convince someone to buy. That’s the time to come to agreement on:

  • Who writes the check? Implements the solution? Cares the most about the result?
  • What needs to happen? Is the expected result?
  • When does it need to happen by?
  • Where does it take place?
  • Why all the pieces are important.
  • How much it will cost.

But in order to get there- it starts with the very first interactions that buyers have with you- the salesperson. How you initially approach and engage a buyer determines whether or not you differentiate yourself from every other salesperson that is filling up their voicemail or inbox and trying to “get on the calendar for 15 minutes to discuss the possibilities…”

So how do you do that? How do you differentiate yourself? How do you add value from the very first interactions? How do you uncover a need and create an opportunity early?

That is no short and easy answer, but if you read this post about sales fundamentals the reasons you do or don’t lies somewhere in there. What it is for you, a blog post can not tell you.

However, there are a few things that we always start new clients with. Here are a few tips that you can do now to increase your chances of closing by examining your approach.

  1. Does your LinkedIn profile scream “salesperson who will sell ice to Eskimos!” ? Start with this LinkedIn eBook to update your profile to highlight your expertise in your industry and build your online presence.
  2. Calculate your we-we factor in your emails and phone conversations. How many times do you talk about you and your solution versus the buyer and their perspective of their problem? How much do you say “I just wanted to [check in, follow up, close the loop, set up a time]” or “I [think, believe, recommend]”. At the earliest stages of building a relationship- do you really think they give a crap about what you want or think?
  3. Stop telling them, start asking them. If you want to be proven wrong, say it as a statement. If you want to learn something (the whole point in the beginning) ask it as a question.
  4. KISS. Keep it simple stupid. Remember the communication pie chart. Match the style communication style of your buyer. If they keep it short, do the same.
  5. Stop the automation! Seriously, in what world does a generic automated message add real personal value?

Your turn. How do you differentiate yourself during your approach with the buyer? How has your approach changed? Or has it?

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Topics: sales tips