“We’re just going to go in, go over a few things, and then we’ll close it on the spot!” – Famous last words of an optimistic sales rep before a sales call
I have heard this thousands of times in the field with sales reps before a sales call. They are EXCITED because they have finally secured the appointment with a prospect they’ve been after.
Based on how the call went, they suddenly become VERY OPTIMISTIC thinking it should be a done deal.
Lo and behold, after the meeting actually happens, the account is NOT actually closed and eventually gets drawn into a long sales cycle that hopefully leads to it being closed.
This is very FRUSTRATING and DEFEATING as a sales professional! In general, most sales pro’s are positive and optimistic about their funnel, prospects, and upcoming meetings. This is a GOOD THING. However, it can also lead you to look at things with rose-colored glasses and just ASSUME it is normal to have a long sales cycle.
Here’s the reality: NOBODY WANTS A LONG SALES CYCLE. Think about it about – which would you prefer:
- 2, 3, 4+ meetings with a prospect to eventually close?
- 1-2 meetings with a prospect to eventually close?
It may seem obvious but you do NOT make a larger commission the MORE meetings you have! (With the exception of meetings with the intent to up-sell.) You actually lose out time (aka your opportunity cost) to meet with other revenue-generating prospects!
The PRIMARY REASONS most sales processes go longer than wanted is because of missing information, lack of control of the sales process, and acting without specific intention in the meetings.
Fortunately, I have found that there is a very SIMPLE 3-step process that you can follow before each meeting that will take less than 5 minutes and can drastically CHANGE the outcome of the appointment! If you invest the 5 minutes before each appointment (whether it is the first or second call), you’ll see this will see INSTANT RETURNS with doubling your closing ratio, a shortened sales cycle, reducing your frustration, and more closed deals! Let’s check out the process!
Before the meeting you have with the prospect, take out a blank sheet of paper or use your sales call sheet that you may already have in place. The key is to be hyper INTENTIONAL AND FOCUSED when you are doing this:
1.) “What do I know?” – Write out exactly what you know about the prospect and business. Start breaking down exactly what you know from an intel perspective that can help you close the account down. This is anything and everything that may be relevant including:
- Business needs
- Who they currently use and/or what products/services
- Pain points/concerns with the existing vendor/situation
- Business goals/mission statement/values
- What you know about the person you are meeting with/background/responsibilities
- The decision-making process
2.) “What information is missing?” – Your focus on this section is write out what information you NEED to know to help close the account down. This could be any missing information from Step 1 or other key details that are very relevant to you writing the order up that day. The key is to not ASSUME anything as the information from Step 1 should still be validated before assuming it is a fact. AND you want to write out anything that is critical for you to close.
A good way to also look at this is to think back to your last account you closed that had multiple steps/meetings before closing. What information did you find out later in the process that would have helped you in earlier steps to shorten the sales cycle? What are common missing intel pieces that you are finding out deeper in the process that you could find out sooner? These may be good hints of common areas where your sales cycle stalls and could potentially be eliminated now that you have uncovered it!
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3.) “What actions will I take to fill in the missing blanks immediately?” – So now that you’ve uncovered what you know and what is missing, now you can write out a simple strategy to take to fill in the blanks! Depending on what’s missing, you’ll see that many of the blanks can probably be filled in by asking those questions in the first meeting. If that is the case, then a simple action step is to write those key questions on your notepad or sales call sheet to ask!
If this is a second meeting (or 3rd+ depending on when you read this), you would do the exact same thing and write out your exact actions you’ll take. This may mean asking the questions in that next meeting, bringing in other resources such as a sales engineer or specialist, doing testing of some sort, etc.!
THAT’S IT! This simple 5-minute strategy session allows you to be very intentional with each meeting and ultimately drive towards one objective: close the business down and help provide your customer a great solution! The biggest mistake I see are sales pro’s going back to same prospect every time without pausing to see what they could do DIFFERENTLY to secure the business. It starts with having massive clarity to what you know, what you need to know, and then mapping out an action plan to close! By executing on this simple strategy on EVERY SALES CALL that takes less than 5 minutes, you’ll see results immediately!
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And then leave a comment below with your questions, thoughts, and advice on the ideas above.
Marcus Chan, President / Founder of Venli Consulting Group, is an award-winning results and people-driven executive sales leader. Over the last decade, Marcus has been promoted 10X in 10 years and has been ranked in the top percentile of every company and every role he has been in.
He is passionate about helping others reach their maximum potential through high performance sales consulting and coaching. You can follow him on Instagram here for daily motivation! More information and a ton of cool resources are waiting for you here!