Reason 5: Close At The Beginning
Traditional selling teaches us to qualify (i.e. make sure they have the money, authority and need to buy what you’re offering), present (explain your solution, prove your value and demonstrate your credibility), close (get commitment) and follow up (send a proposal, do a demonstration, send pricing), but this is the road to ruin. I did this for 16 years and was permanently broke. One month I’d hit target the next two I wouldn’t and so on and so forth. I had credit card debts, overdrafts, I struggled to pay my bills, couldn’t afford to go on holiday year after year, and every brown envelope that came through my door gave me bile and nausea. Familiar?
That was until I learned to contract in clear, specific and certain terms with my prospects. Let me give you an example.
“Once we finish talking and you’ve seen how what I do applies to you in your role, in your business, I want you to make a decision.
You can say “no” and “no” means you will simply decide that what I teach isn’t for you; I can’t help you; my systematic approach to selling can’t help you increase your sales or you’re so happy with the way your business is running that you don’t want to improve. In which case you will say “Marcus, no thank you” and we can part friends. That’s what “no” means. Is that fair?
Alternatively you can say “yes”. Let’s start with what “yes” doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean you’ll become my next client. I’m expensive and picky about who I work with. And you may hate me when we speak! What “yes” does mean is that you want to take a call from me to discuss your problems with sales and to explore if I feel I can help you improve your performance or the performance of your company in sales. Now, I don’t know if I can help you as we’ve not spoken for some time if at all, and I’d be lying if I said I could without diagnosing what’s happening to you and what’s holding you back.
If either of us feel at that point that there is no fit, we can both say “no” and end the conversation then and there. If on the other hand we both agree that there may be a fit and you want to take things further, we’ll agree one of two things. You’ll attend my next Executive Briefing on the 1st or 3rd Tuesday of the month which will require you invest a whole 2 and half hours(+ travel time) and £49+VAT learning why buyers control you today and what to do to reverse that problem so you are always in control. Or, you’ll invite me in to meet you for up to 90 minutes to discuss a tailored programme of sales training for you or your team. At that meeting we’ll dig deeper into the causes of your problems which requires me to ask you some tough and direct questions and for you to give me direct and honest answers back. Once we’ve diagnosed the causes of your problems we’ll need to agree what you want to do about them. You can say “no” and end it there or we’ll need to agree how much time, money and resource you’re willing to invest to make these problems go away. Does that make sense?
There are two reasons why when we meet you may decide you don’t want to do business with me. The first is what I teach is tough and takes time to learn, and you might be someone who is unwilling to do what’s necessary to get buyers to buy from you because you’re more interested in being liked and being seen as technically strong or professional. This means that you are more interested in staying stuck than you are in helping yourself and I can only help people who are ready to change and want to improve.
The second is that I’m expensive and your fear of loss is greater than your desire to succeed. You want guarantees when I can only guarantee I’ll deliver my side of the bargain and good materials with strong delivery and support but I have no control over your behaviour in the sales situation, you practicing the material and techniques, you forming your own good selling habits, and you reinforcing the changes in yourself and your salespeople when I’m not around. You don’t see yourself as ever being good at selling no matter how well equipped you are because you think of selling as a dirty way to make a living and you’re more worried that your mother will be upset that you’re selling at a profit than being seen as a “professional” or “technical” expert in your field. My costs will vary from a one off of as little as £247+VAT to thousands of pounds per annum per head. If we get that far, we’ll need to talk about your budget, where you’ll find the money to pay for my services be they training, coaching or consulting, your timescales and your decision making process i.e. who besides yourself will be involved in making the decision to retain my services, when, where, how and what the process looks like.
Neither side will waste any time, and we’ll both always know what will happen next. Does that seem reasonable?”
Clear, specific and certain in its terms, that is the basis for a strong up front contract. Now when did the close happen? If we reach the point where you ask me to help you, all I’m doing is confirming the order, aren’t I?
How different is that to trying to close at the end of a 2, 3 or 7 meeting sales cycle that may have lasted for weeks or months and cost me how much?
How much do new business meetings cost you? Is that where your profit might be going? Doing busy work that doesn’t result in revenue is the road to ruin and many of your predecessors’ corpses litter the road to where you are today. Do you really want to become another business-failure statistic?
Now do you see why you should close at the beginning not the end?