Why do some sales opportunities not close when every indicator leads you to believe they will? Preserve your closing ratio by following these four tips.
You finish a great sales call. You build great rapport and ask a lot of questions. The prospect loves your presentation and communicates their excitement about your solutions. They are ready to buy. You happily provide them with a contract. You expect a signature, but instead you get stalls, avoidance, unanswered phone calls, no replies to your emails, etc.
You get nothing… and your closing ratio suffers.
Having coached thousands of salespeople through B2B sales calls, one issue that continually emerges as a key contributor to lost sales opportunities is this: the salesperson’s failure to clarify the prospects urgency to buy.
To avoid this costly mistake, use these four questions during your next sales call to validate that you’ve got a legitimate sales opportunity to close before sending a contract:
1. Get the exact date
Question: What date do you want it delivered? Installed? Get started?
Unacceptable answers are: “Right away, Very soon, Quickly, ASAP, Yesterday”, etc. These answers create a false sense of urgency that assumes they want a contract now. An acceptable answer would be an actual date like: this Thursday or September 9th. That’s clarity. Be sure to clarify and even repeat the question to get a solid answer. If you get a date, then you can move on to the next important question.
2. Uncover the compelling reasons for that date
Question: What’s driving that date?
Urgency is directly tied to a specific set of reasons. Your job is to find out what they are. Is their current contract expiring? Are they experiencing severe pain? Have they outgrown their current vendor? Is there a change in management? Are they losing money or customers? The stronger the reasons, the more confidence you can have in that date.
3. Discuss inevitable or potential consequences
Question: What happens if you don’t meet that date?
Notice the question is not, “What happens if we don’t meet that date?” You want the prospect to articulate the adverse outcomes if they do not have a solution in place by that date. In essence, you want to find out if the date they gave you is a hard date (immoveable) or a soft date (flexible). This helps to avoid submitting a proposal or contract and it not coming back signed.
4. Determine their level of flexibility
Question: How flexible are you with that date?
In the event the buyer needs your solution earlier than you can deliver, find out how flexible they are. If possible, can they purchase part of your solution now and part later? Work through options whenever possible to accommodate their demands, but keeping with your company’s ability to deliver.
Bonus: Provide your time requirements
Statement: We have a two-week turnaround for installation/delivery.
In the event the buyer cannot provide you with a definitive date, then provide them with your realistic time requirements for delivery. That creates a dialog for further exploring the buyer’s objectives and time demands (if any).
If you find that the buyer cannot answer these questions definitively, you probably have a less qualified buyer who is not going to sign a contract. You need to know this so you don’t fill your pipeline with overinflated prospects that eventually will not buy. Don’t waste your time sending them a contract and sacrifice your closing ratio.
Some salespeople simply assume the prospect is ready to buy without asking specific questions about their urgency to buy. Avoid this pitfall by using these tips to ensure alignment between the buyer’s actual time frame and your ability to deliver. You’ll be glad you did.