June 12, 2009

‘Close Like The Pros’ - How 'Interactive Selling' Increases Success

Because you are short on time, we have pulled together a short summary of the main points of 'Close Like The Pros' - a must read for all B2B sales professionals.

Forget about Closing:

I generally don’t pick up, much less read books with ‘closing’ in the title, however this book - 'Close Like the Pros' is different. In fact it turns the ABC (always be closing) mantra on its head calling instead for a new approach called ‘interactive selling’. But that is just one of the reasons why it is a must r
ead for all sales professionals.

Recognise the Problem?

The book opens with a scenario familiar to us all.

1. You have met the buyer, made a good presentation and feel good about the prospects of a deal.
2. The buyer asks you to prepare proposal straight-away.
3. So, back at the office you labour to create a carefully worded document and dispatch it to the customer.
4. A few days later you call to see how your proposal was received, only to meet vague answers, such as ‘oh, we have
not got around to looking at it yet’, or ‘we will come back to you later’.
5. Worse still, you call repeatedly but cannot get the buyer at their desk.

You have done your selling. Now the buying is taking place and you are excluded. The result is what Steve Marks calls ‘sales limbo’.

Getting to the Root of the Problem:

What is the problem? The author suggest ‘You wer
e too focused on selling to ensure that the buyer was buying’. That means there was not enough interaction to enable you to really help the buyer decide what he/she needed, or to tell you earlier you were wasting your time.

Marks observes that ‘sales people get way out in front of their prospects, without checking the rear view mirror to see if the prospect is still following and how closely.’

Premature Elaboration:

One of the dangers of this is what he calls ‘premature elaboration’ where the salesperson is drawn into presenting a solution before he, or she has been afforded the opportunity to find out exactly what the customer needs.

Of course, Marks makes it clear that this not just the fault of the salesperson, with busy buyers often being reluctant to spend time explaining what is required.

The Committment of Time:

Marks points out that selling in the B2B realm requires lots of time and commitment on the part of the seller, but if that is not in some way matched by the buyer, the results are, at best, going to be uncertain.

Inevitably, selling is going to take a lot of the salesperson’s time - the question, according to Marks, is whether that time is going to be wasted, or not. That is are you g
oing to spend that time up front interacting with the buyer, or in chasing him for a decision afterwards?

Hold-off on that Proposal!

Of course, the latter is much less effective, with the author
pointing out the obvious - ‘the calls you make after handing over the proposal don’t have the same impact as those you make before’.

So, hold off on doing that proposal until you really have had a chance to build a rapport with the prospect, to understand their needs, to discuss solutions and so on. In this way you are in effect getting the customer to write his/her own proposal as you go along.

In Summary

In this book Steve Marx tells us what we all instinctively know, but can sometimes overlook – no complex or high value deal is closed in one, or two sales calls. More to the point he reminds us that ‘hands off selling’ does not work. More than ever time spent understanding the needs of the customer and jointly arriving at solutions is essential to sales success.

In an era of lengthening sales cycles and more complex buying decisions, ‘Close Like The Pros’ is an essential read.

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