Presumably you’ve had some quiet time over the holidays to reflect on the past year, and to look forward to the next. Since traditionally now is the time to think about resolutions for the coming year, perhaps you’re thinking about what you can do differently at work, whether it’s how to streamline processes to be more efficient or how to grow your revenue.
One thing you can take a look at is to drill down on what you’re doing to close more deals. When everything is going great it’s easy to be a star salesman just by picking the low hanging fruit. But what about when everything isn’t going great?
Hold on to your seat — you might actually have to do some work. That means not just drumming up more qualified prospects, because if the market is tough, there might not be more prospects than usual — there might be fewer.
It also means making more out of what you’ve got. If you have fewer leads then it seems self-evident that you’re going to have to close more of them.
Closing is misunderstood. That’s a hill that I will happily die on.
People commonly think of closing as asking for the sale, and then asking again and again until the client says yes.
In order to even get to the point where you ask, “So, will you buy it?”, you need to do a number of things well beforehand. Itemize them, track the and commit to doing them, and that will take you to where you want to go: closing the deal!
First, commit to seriously prospecting for new leads. By now I hope you all know about hunters and farmers, but if you don’t, “hunters” are the salespeople who have a knack for going out, cold calling and drumming up business. “Farmers” are salespeople who do better dealing with existing clients or dealing with people who walk in the door in a retail setting.
Hunters already know this, but if you generally prefer to farm, think of it this way: You’ll have more existing business to look after if you go and create some new leads for yourself.
Briefly on prospecting (I know I can go on about this): Make list of who you’re going to approach: builders, designers, architects, retail stores, whoever. Talk to your existing clients for referrals. Someone you know probably knows someone who needs your help.
Once you have a list, work it. Make every effort to get in front of decision makers and find that chemistry between you. What chemistry, you ask? You’ll found out if you commit to qualifying your leads.
Qualifying prospective clients is crucial. To use dating as a metaphor it’s the “get to know you” phase. By getting to know them, you’re not just learning what they think they need, but also uncovering hidden needs. Because heaven knows what clients first think they need isn’t always what they really need. It’s your job to help them realize it.
You may not necessarily walk away from those first get to know you sessions with a signed contract. And that’s OK. No one closes every prospect on the first meeting. That’s why you need to commit to scheduled follow up.
In retail we all dread the “I’ll-be-back,” but if you’re proactive, keep their contact information and follow up diligently, you can turn maybes into for-sures. You don’t need to stalk them but you need to work your list of prospects daily. Put them in your calendar. You’ll know from qualifying them what the appropriate timeline for follow up is, whether it’s a day, week, month, whatever.
I’ll tell you right now. If you actually follow up with prospective clients you’ll be among the top quartile of all salespeople, everywhere. As my realtor wife likes to say, joking-but-not-joking: “Hey other realtors, want to make more money? THEN ANSWER YOUR ******* PHONE!”
Trust me, it doesn’t just apply to real estate.
To close out, I want to be clear that when I say “close more,” I don’t mean the whole Glengarry Glenn Ross “Always Be Closing!” rant (as much as I never get tired of watching that). What I mean is being professional and consistent about the whole process, from prospecting all the way through to the finish. Resolve to do all of that, and you’ll have a great year.