Selling hasn't always come easily to me. Over the years, I've been rejected thousands of times. On one such occasion, I was closing a big deal with a publicly traded company; I was among the final two companies from which they were choosing. Everything seemed to go perfectly. My pitch was solid. My slides were great. In my mind, it was a flawless presentation ... until I didn't win the deal.
I learned that, despite having an amazing pitch, there are many more factors to being able to close a deal. It's not just about having an amazing product, but about standing out and building trust. I've since successfully closed many deals for my business. Here are some of the tactics that have helped me.
1. Establish set goals.
Do you know what can ultimately determine your failure or success? It may not be your product, service, training or dedication. I've found that it may actually be goal setting. When setting goals, I recommend you follow these steps:
- Evaluate what's important to you on a professional level and see if it matches your personal ambitions.
- Find a quiet place and write down your goals.
- Get a coach or someone to constantly follow up with.
- With your coach, come up with achievable steps to reach your goals.
- Report weekly to your coach.
- Reward yourself for successes.
2. Know the decision maker.
It may not make a whole lot of sense to spend time trying to sell to someone who isn’t making the purchasing decision. If you want to close a deal, sit down with the decision maker. This may take a little research on your end, but it can not only increase the chances of a sale, it may actually speed up the entire process. Make sure you're talking to the right individual—and create a sales pitch that would specifically interest them. I always say that behind every sales rep, there's an amazing researcher who can find anything and connect with anyone.
If the decision maker sends in someone else, still consider gearing your sales pitch to the decision maker. Just because they’re not there in person doesn’t mean you can’t sell to them.
3. Be positive.
Always try to stay positive during negotiations—even when you get frustrated. Keep the negotiation light, tell a humorous story and smile. This positive energy is often contagious and can put the customer at ease.
If positive energy may be contagious, then negative energy may be as well. If you’re having a bad day and the customer can read that from your body language, do you think they’ll have confidence in you and your pitch? If you bad-mouth a competitor or argue with the customer, do you think that will increase your chances of landing a sale?
4. Always listen and ask questions.
Many customers have a negative view of salespeople. That can be a bit discouraging. But you may be able to change that if, when you first sit down with a potential client, you:
- Don't talk about yourself.
- Don't talk about your products or service.
- Don't recite your sales pitch.
Introduce yourself and get to know your client. Show that you're curious about them and listen to what they want or need. By doing so, you can have a better understanding of how you may help them. Gain their trust.
5. Use past examples.
Help put your customers at ease by sharing past success stories. Maybe you have research or case studies to help demonstrate the value you could bring to the customer. When doing this, highlight the problem a previous customer had and explain how you resolved the situation.
6. Communicate clearly and effectively.
If you prepared your sales pitch, rehearsing it or videotaping it may help you clearly communicate the value of what you’re selling with confidence. Being able to effectively describe the value of your product/service may help you earn the trust of the customer because it can illustrate that you believe in what you’re selling.
Speaking of communication skills, eye contact can also help. This is another way you can display confidence, and it may also show that you're interested in what the customer has to say.
7. Don’t burn bridges.
What happens if a client says no? Don’t walk away angry. Maybe they’re just not ready to make the commitment or aren't currently in need of your product or services. You could always follow up with them at a later time. There’s even a possibility they have a colleague or know someone else who would be interested. In other words, if you’ve built a relationship with a customer, it could still be beneficial for both parties.
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A version of this article was originally published on January 4, 2015.