In spite of what it might imply, the act of closing a deal begins much prior to your final statement. From conducting initial research to coming up with a proposal, you consider your method of closing with every step.
Of the 40% of sales reps who feel unprepared for a pitch, you’re going to want to make sure you aren’t one of them. But not only will you need to master certain tactics—you’ll have to keep up with the times as well.
With the influence of newer platforms such as social media, consumers’ purchasing habits change with every sound of a pin drop. Whether your values align or not, you’ll have to be willing to adjust just enough to woo them.
Here’s how to close a deal as a tradie owner.
Know Your Clients and Competitors
It’s 2020 and the dating game has changed. With the help of apps like Tinder and Bumble, linking up is far easier than it once was. But if there’s one aspect of sales that ought to remain old-school, it’s the act of courting your client.
The fact of the matter is, 92% of all customer interactions still take place over the phone. A prospect might demonstrate interest in your online listing of renovation services, but you’re more than likely going to have to ring them up to get them to bite—at least 8 times, if our last hyperlink is to be believed.
Much like dating, you’ll want to gauge how compatible your products and services are with your prospect’s internal operations. A simple Google search might do the trick, or, if you’ve made first contact, you can opt to send out a client questionnaire.
Ask your prospect to describe their project and how you can best alleviate a problem they’ve been hoping to solve. Put them in a position that gets them to study you. The more they learn (and like) could get them to close in no time.
Similarly, ask about tradies they’ve previously hired. You’ll get an inside look on how your competitors function and, better yet, how you can improve on aspects that didn’t quite impress your now-prospect.
If a prospect is adamant about budget restraints, get them to reconsider with a proposal of tiered options. The greater the spend, the greater the value. But tier notwithstanding, your offer should address your prospect’s specific needs.
If anything, your prospect gets to feel more in control of their choices, and more so when they’re three-pronged. Craft your ideal offer into your second tier—the optimal one. Three-pronged pricing techniques often place your safest bets first and your greatest reach last.
You can even indicate your best-value offer, especially if former clients have availed of them in the past.
Plan for Potential Objections
Hardly ever is a relationship smooth-sailing, especially when you haven’t defined it yet. In the sales and trade world, it’s nothing a little foresight can’t help.
Ever heard of Warren Buffett’s landmine map? It’s an outline of anticipated run-ins with a prospect and your personal resolutions to them. A client might already be providing you with a summary of the risks and problems that need solving, but uncovered needs are more common than you think.
The best case is if you do end up running into one, that you ease up any resistance by demonstrating thoughtful analysis and reasonable expectations.
Comparably, you might also choose to pre-assess any instances of an off-ramp (in layman’s terms, a “What if?”) Draft your recovery process in advance by considering the following circumstances:
- An unforeseen shift in schedule.
- A sudden need for staff replacement.
- An unexpected demand of excess material.
With your client, agree on a plan of action for worst-case scenarios. Do you halt entirely, or do you simply postpone? Do you make adjustments to your budget and, if so, how far does your client’s buffer range?
Ask questions that imply some sort of call-to-action. Whether or not they take the bait, you’ll gain insights you wouldn’t have otherwise had you never asked the question in the first place.
Of course, everything at this point in the game is hypothetical—but it pays for a prospect to know you’re more than prepared.
Do you advocate for a Machiavellian leadership style? Granted, it’s proven successful as a compliance trigger, but is equally as unmotivating.
When it comes to closing a deal, being personable is an element of conversation that happens instinctively. Consider these well-known tradies and how often they’ve been described as almost like family when servicing their clients.
Coming down to it, selling benefits might work for some. But tapping into emotional connections by means of telling a relatable story or presenting yourself as an ally makes you more of an investment and less of an expense.
Be anything but cookie-cutter. Treat a sales close not as a goal, but a stepping-stone towards a potential long-term consultancy. Sure—the bottom line is, you’ll want to fatten your pipeline by making a sale, but imagine not having to make it again. If you can lock down a prospect, business becomes consistent.
Sell by Example
You can’t be in business without the occasional risk, and what’s more hands-on than a trial run? True enough, you risk a gamble—but not much.
Is your client feeling indecisive about room renovations? Provide two free floor plans for them to look over. Are they unsure about the quality of your work? Provide them with a rendering of how your output could look.
Take each instance of hesitation as a chance to clarify your offerings and give your prospects a clearer picture of what you have to sell.
Listen to Your Prospects
As we’ve mentioned, compassion is a characteristic all sales reps ought to hone. It places people over profit and transforms the notion of closing a deal into something more of a service in itself.
Regardless of industry, it’s imperative that your client feels heard. The simple mention of your company name over four times is enough to hurt your chances of closing by 14%.
Let your clients do most of the talking. Abide by a 70-30 rule, with your prospect at an advantage. Through active listening, you can identify pain points, through keywords like:
You can further uncover and address them by inquiring about specifics—how frequently they encounter a particular problem and what they might’ve previously attempted in order to solve it.
The more positive an outlook appears, the easier it is to be more up-front. Begin by incorporating “when” to replace your use of “if” and transition from “you” to “we.” You never know—a simple shift in language can get prospects to apply it to their own.
Know How to Recover from a Standstill
With any business deal, your prospects are likely to get hung up on negotiations. Thing is, everything is negotiable, even when others may not seem to think so.
44% of sales professionals give up after a single follow-up and is a statistic you won’t want to be part of. Persistence can get pesky but, contrary to popular belief, also necessary. Unexpected as it may seem, 80% of sales go through 5 follow-ups after an initial meeting.
So when do you know to check-in? Consider the following circumstances:
You haven’t heard back in a while
By a while, we mean 48 hours. If you haven’t yet received word in regards to your proposal in two days, it’s unlikely you will—unless you initiate.
Your follow-up should provide as much value as your opening statement. Send “Just checking in!” and you’re going headfirst into a prospect’s spam folder. Touch on something specific; perhaps a delivery concern or inventory query.
Your negotiations are going nowhere
So you can’t agree on, say, a price tag. Negotiate on scope. Above all, you’re solving a problem, not making easy profit.
You can bait an uneasy prospect without giving too much away. For instance, you can give them time to think things through, but place an expiration date on your proposal. It isn’t just their time being taken up, after all—it’s yours.
Opt to schedule a meet in person. What with the power of smartphones and tablets, hiding behind a screen is all too easy nowadays. A face-to-face conversation is, for lack of a better word, humanising. You’ll be able to pick up on body language and even tone.
If you’re the type who’s managed to collect a strong network of clients, you can try connecting your leads to former clients. Social proofing is a sales tactic frequently implemented in deal-closing narratives. If one or more people are willing to stake their names and reputations on the quality of your work, it makes a strong statement .
However often you choose to make periodic follow-ups, keep sending free advice. At the bare minimum, if your prospect isn’t ready to commit at a given moment, they’ll have you top-of-mind for any future work that needs doing.
They’ve already turned you down
When it comes to sales, a “no,” can just as easily mean, “not right now.” If you can assert yourself by means of suggesting solution steps, you might find yourself re-negotiating with your prospect.
That being said, be sure not to press too hard, or your prospect will feel smothered. Instead, perform gentle nudges and offer subtle outs. If reverse psychology works to your advantage, you’ll get lucky with buyer’s remorse.
But before you jump into re-negotiations, be clear on why your prospect rejected you in the first place. Here’s how you might go about addressing common objections:
“It’s just not within our budget”
Respond with an “If I—” approach by justifying your offers against a more affordable price. Say, “If we can work with more cost-effective materials, we can shake on a lower amount.” Of course, be sure to align with your managers beforehand. A deal is a deal, but not a great one if achieved by impulse.
“It’s not a good time for us.”
Let’s take a look at the bright side. It isn’t a no but an issue of timing. Maintain communication with clients whose schedules clash only for now. You can get back to them in the long run.
Work them into your mailing list for the occasional check-in. Be sure to make it personal.
“We’re not sure it’s the right fit.”
Your first walk in a new pair of shoes isn’t always the most comfortable. In most cases, you’ll have to break them in before you develop any sort of muscle memory. Such can be the case with new clients.
If you’re hearing this before you’ve taken any further steps, chances are your mutual level of trust hasn’t yet matured. Find ways to earn it, whether by offering a test piece or simply finding more time to address specific concerns.
When it comes to closing a deal, remember to stay earnest. If you fear coming off as “too much of a salesperson”, there likely is a reason behind it.
Take time to refine your approach and practice building proposals for prospects outside of your comfort zone. In the end, remember to keep these two principles in mind:
- Don’t sell for the sake of profit, but because you believe you can offer genuine help. If you knew someone with the capability to address your most pressing concerns, wouldn’t you want to collaborate? Be that type of provider for leads who (at least for now) are teeter-tottering. Trust in your genuine desire to find a solution and your raw ability to do so.
- Focus on developing your relationship with a prospect. Ever hear about the right person at the wrong time? We’re pointing to a lot of romantic parallels, but for good reason. If a prospect has already expressed interest at a future date, take it as an opportunity to continue fostering trust.
However, you best choose to close a deal, keep in mind to constantly be providing business value. Use emotional intelligence. Take an occasional risk. Make an exception for a customer.
The more thoroughly developed your goals and values are, the better you can craft deal-closing strategies.